Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taking the Easy Way Out

I ate lunch the other day in one of my favorite fast food restaurants. When the cashier rang in my order, it came to $9.17. I handed her a $20 bill, and searched for 17 cents in change in my coin purse. Digging through the shekels from my recent trip to Israel/Palestine, I realized that I only had one US coin in the mix. I took the quarter out and handed it to the cashier.

She typed in $20.25 as the amount tendered and the cash register told her that my change was to be $11.08.

She looked confused for a moment and handed me $11 and 25 cents back. I said, "No, this is the quarter I gave you. You only need to give me 8 cents back."

She said, 'Well, this will be easier." She handed me back my quarter and scurried away.

I stood there for a moment, and considered giving this kid a lecture on right and wrong, and the danger of taking short cuts. I thought about the person who would later need to balance this till... and I wondered how many other transactions she took short cuts on and how 'off' the balance of this cash drawer would be by the end of the day. It all adds up.

It made me sad to think of what this young woman will manifest in her life. That attitude is not going to serve her well. Of that I am sure.

How long would it take to count out 8 cents? Why would that be considered such an imposition for this kid... when that is her job!

How far off would that cash drawer become? Who might get in trouble for not keeping track of the money better? Who would potentially pay the price for her carelessness and laziness?

How often do we find ourselves facing the temptation of taking the easy way out of a situation.

When a clerk makes a mistake in our favor, and we know it, do we correct them? Or do we rejoice that their error yeilded us something we didn't expect (or deserve)?

A guest in my home, visiting over the holidays, made a comment that the needles from my Christmas tree were getting tracked all over the house. He asked if I wanted to sweep them up. I knew that my house would be getting cleaned in a couple days, and to be honest with you, a few tree needles here and there really didn't bother me. I was willing to wait until the house got cleaned to have that problem resolved. My guest offered to sweep for me if I got him a broom. I was somewhat shocked at the offer, but brought a broom, and dust pan to him. I was busy cooking in the kitchen at the time and wasn't willing to stop and do the sweeping chore myself. After a few minutes I glanced over to find him sweeping the pine needles under my sofa!!!!

"What the heck are you doing?" I asked.

"Just getting these needles out of the floor."

"So, instead of leaving them alone so they can be properly cleaned up when I have the time... you are putting them somewhere they will probably remain for all eternity? Excactly how is that helpful?"

I couldn't believe it. As though sweeping them 'under the rug' was better than leaving them visible - to be dealt with at a later time. I was just in awe of that logic.

The attitude of taking short cuts, finding the easy way out, and sweeping things under the rug is problematic in the living of life. Those sorts of actions will always find their way back to us by way of negative consequences.

I suggest we look at our 'little' behaviors that trend in this way and nip them in the bud! If they show up in our lives in little ways, we can be sure they will arrive in larger and more destructive ways at some point down the road.

No comments: