awhile back my daughter and I were scanning groceries through the u-scan. my daughter gets a kick out of finding the upc labels and watching the price come up (ahh, the simple joys). we were doing our thing, scanning, placing item in bag, don't touch the scale that the bags sit on or the red screen will scream at you and computer will go into melt-down mode--yeah, we had a system and we were buzzing along.
we were just about to the exit when I notice my 1.12 pounds of sahlen's deli smoked ham is crunched in the corner of the cart, outside of the grocery bag. "crap!" I swear to myself, (yeah, that's my idea of swearing--I'm not a big swearing person. for some reason real, don't-mess-with-me swearing just sounds silly coming out of my mouth. is it the timing?) I'm going to have to go back in line and wait to pay for the ham. but then, the ever-present silver lining dons on me! this will be a great learning experience for my daughter, she will see honesty at work and we will both have tender warm hearts on our way home.
did I mention we were at Meijer?
I quickly explain to my daughter what happened as I turn the cart around to head back to the u-scan. my daughter and I are feeling a tad giddy, like we are in cahootz of some grand, bigger-than-you-or-me honesty bonanza. she's smiling, I'm smiling...the u-scan cashier isn't smiling. she scans our cart with the obvious supposed-to-be-done grocery shopping bags and asks doubtingly, "can I help you?" I explain embarrassingly/chirpingly that I neglected to pay for the ham (I show her the ham and my short receipt) and would like to go back in line to pay. the cashier takes the ham and the receipt. I look down at my daughter, she is sporting the same blissful honest smile that I am, we exchange little winky-winks.
the cashier's silvery grey eyebrows furrow; clearly she is not in on the grand honesty bonanza bandwagon. "you forgot to pay for the ham and now you've come back to pay?" she asks in disbelief. I nod my head, my daughter nods her head while the cashier shakes her head. she hands me the receipt and places the ham inside my grocery bag. "it's okay she says, just take the ham." and turning back to her monitor, effectively dismisses me. my five year old pulls on my hand, signaling that she wants to whisper in my ear, "is she stealing for us?" I remove the now even more dishonest ham from my bag, and head-gesturing toward my daughter state, "I would like to pay for my ham, may I leave my cart here?" now annoyed cashier looks and says, "I can't watch your cart, you can leave it here, but I'm not guaranteeing anything."
the giddiness is gone, the bonanza is over as I pay $6.03 for my pound of deli ham. we walk back over to the cart when cashier lady half laughs and mockingly states, "I'm sure we've made errors in our favor that would have canceled out your price of the ham." memories of grocery bags that never made it into my cart, mis-priced items on my receipts and all the wasted gas to drive back to rectify Meijer mistakes (not to mention the agony of waiting in the "customer service" line) come rushing to mind. she's probably right, cynical but right.
I sigh a little in the car, dejected by the whole scene. I glance in my rear view mirror to see my daughter all aglow, she laughs while squeezing her hands together and says, "you're right ma! it feels good to be honest."