posted by Matt W on April 5th, 2012

I recently walked into a Walgreen’s to pick up a pair of reading glasses. I put a pair in my wife’s purse at a recent volleyball tournament and forgot to get them out before I left for a weeklong training course (maybe I need a purse like Joe. Not yet). So any way I walked into the store and looked down and saw a $1 bill on the floor. I reach down and pick it up and walk it over to the counter 10 feet away and say someone dropped the bill. The cashier says he thinks the women who just walked out dropped it and I walk it out to an older woman who was with her mother digging around in her purse. I hand her the dollar and turn to walk back into the store. She says as I walk inside, ”Thank you so much, that is so nice of you.” While I’m thinking everyone would do this and it’s only a dollar I answer, “You’re welcome.”

I go inside and heads towards the back of the store to get my readers and the cashier says, “That was really nice, thanks for doing that.” As I’m on a mission and really not thinking about “the dollar” anymore, I barely realize he’s talking to me but instinctively respond  “Oh, OK.”

I make it to the back of the store and find the readers and am deciding if I need the next level up of magnification (It sucks to get old.), and a woman starts talking to me. As I am quiet by nature, I’m pretty sure no one has ever walked up to me in a store and started talking to me. She talks to me for a few minutes and I still have no idea what she was getting at but she leaves me to my magnification dilemma and as she walks away says, “That was really nice of you.”

I finally decided to go with the old magnification somehow thinking this preserves my dignity. (It made sense at the time.) I walked up to the other cashier and she starts chatting about my purchases and makes sure I have everything I need and as I’m leaving says, “That was really nice of you, have a great night.”

I don’t get it. I reached down, picked up a dollar bill and returned it to its rightful owner. Shouldn’t everyone do that?

Well maybe I’m setting my standards too high. If you always set the bar at a level where the ultimate positive action is the norm, then your only direction to go is towards failure. There is no room to move toward a more positive response. So I’m lowering my standards to have a happier life.

Yesterday, I could have walked by the dollar for a neutral result, or pocketed the buck and been a cold hearted bastard, but instead I returned the dollar and deserve to be happy and rewarded with other peoples happiness as well.

So while I don’t understand the deal people made out of the small action, everyone seemed a bit happier, so we’re all good. If by making the morally correct response the action that lets people feel happier in the short term, maybe someday everyone will do the right thing, just because it’s the right thing to do. Then I’ll really be happy.

File Under Jack of all Trades