What Price My Soul?

I stopped at Kroger on my way home from Bible study last night to return a movie (late) to redbox. The End of the Tour. It was good.

As long as I was there, I decided to grab a bunch of bananas, because yesterday my daughter mentioned nutella and, as soon as she did, the 2 and 1/2 jars of nutella in my pantry started begging for bananas. I bought a green bunch, since I gave up sweets for Lent…

And a red onion. Because I used the last of my red onion at dinner.

It was 9:00 pm and cashiers were scarce so I used the self check out. I typed in the code on the bananas, set them on the scanner and then bagged them.  Just as it should be.

Then I typed in the code on the onion, typed the quantity and placed it on the scanner. What? Cucumber? 79 cents?

I hit the button for assistance. No assistance was in sight. I waited. Still no one came.

Maybe I should just throw the onion in the bag and finish checking out.

I waited a bit longer.

Maybe I SHOULD just throw the onion in the bag and finish checking out.

I waited.

Just as I was about to throw the dang onion in the bag and pay, I saw a young woman in a Kroger smock approach. She was holding a scanning device.

“I must have punched in the wrong code because it came up cucumber.”

She voided my item and I re-punched.

Red onion. $1.65

Only 86 cents this time.

What a bargain.



What Would You Do?

It was 2:30 pm on Saturday.  My daughter returned home from a morning of errands, took one look at my attire and asked, “Didn’t you go?”

“Oh my gosh!  I completely forgot!”

I raced upstairs to change out of my sloppy sweats and into some respectable jeans.

We had half an hour to get to the market before “Spa Day” ended.

We arrived way too late to get a goody bag – the 50 they were giving away would have all been snatched up within the first minute or two of the event – but there was still time to enter a drawing for a gift basket.  And we could still use my coupon for 25% off all apothecary items.  We each had a list of things we were getting low on, just waiting for this coupon day to purchase them.

So we entered the drawing.  And yesterday my daughter texted me that she won.  Yay!

She swung by the market after work to claim her prize.  We both had visions of a basket full of  beautifully arranged lotions and potions.  But that must have been the GRAND prize, because what she received was a tote bag with a huge jug of protein powder, a plastic mixer and some unidentifiable packets thrown in it.  Definitely not up to the usual aesthetic standards of the market.  We wondered if one of the spa day vendors left a few items behind.  “Hey, let’s draw another name….”

Definitely not what we were picturing.

Definitely not what we were picturing.

But that’s just the preamble.

As my daughter stood in line at the customer relations counter she witnessed classic what-we-don’t-like-about-this-town behavior.

The woman in front of my daughter interrupted the cashier, who was waiting on the customer WHOSE TURN IT WAS, to ask for her lollipops.  “There should be six of them,” she said.  The cashier handed them to her and then turned her attention back to the customer she had been helping.

Lollipop woman muttered, “There are only five,” counted them (my daughter counted along with her – there was definitely six) and then shoved one of them into her purse.  When it was lollipop lady’s turn, she handed the bunch to the cashier to ring them up.  The cashier asked, “Didn’t you say you ordered six of them?”  The woman replied, “I put one back.”

Back where?, my daughter thought, the Sees Candy counter is clear on the other side of the store.  Back in your purse, that’s where.

She thought about saying something, but she is too afraid to confront the women like her who live in our town.  When she got to her car she thought of a couple of things she could have said.  Things like, “Would you like me to pay for that lollipop in your purse for you?”  Or, “Is a $2 lollipop really worth your integrity.”

But we always seem to think of those things just a tiny bit too late.

And no, John Quinones did not appear to tell her she failed.


Life Lessons

Christmas was an exciting time at my house growing up.  My dad was a buyer for a large company, which meant the UPS truck stopped in front of our house several times a day bearing gifts from an army of salesmen.  Usually the packages contained big boxes of chocolates or an occasional fruitcake.  Sometimes the gifts were larger.

Company policy said my dad could not accept any gifts valued over $50, or maybe it was $100.  Most salespeople stayed within the acceptable limit, but one particular child-wowing package did not.

My dad said we had to send it back.  My sisters wanted him to make an exception, and I kinda’ wanted him to make an exception, too.  But I was also really proud of him and I wanted to be proud of him more than I wanted to keep the gift.

My dad was a consistent lesson in honesty and integrity and I loved that about him.  I try to follow his example, an example that spoke way louder than words.

The cashier gives me too much change.  Is my integrity worth $5?  Excuse me, ma’am…

I get to my car to discover a small item at the bottom of my cart.  I check the receipt, nope, wasn’t charged.  Is it my lucky day?  Should I rejoice over a free mascara, as many I know would?  I think not.  The $16 price tag on that item will cost my soul a whole lot more.  Back into the store I go.

Thanks Dad.  That felt good.

The image I wanted to use is designated "All rights reserved."   "What do you mean I can't download it?  That's sooo silly." I was going to just grab it and use it anyway.  Until the Holy Spirit whispered, "What's this post about again?" Thanks Dad and Holy Spirit. And thanks, KitAY, Creative Commons.

The image I wanted to use is designated “All rights reserved.”
“What do you mean I can’t download it? That’s sooo silly. Not sharing is going to send you back 3 desks.”
I was going to just grab it and use it anyway. Until the Holy Spirit whispered, “What’s this post about again?”
Thanks Dad and Holy Spirit.
And thanks, KitAY, Creative Commons.

There is a scene from the movie Out of Africa that has come to mind often these 30 years since I saw it:

Karen: He has got lovely books. Does he lend them?
Berkeley: We had a friend – Hopworth – he’d got a book from Denys and didn’t return it. Denys was furious. I said to Denys, “You wouldn’t lose a friend for the sake of a book.” He said, “No, but he has, hasn’t he?”

Ill-gotten gain always comes with one price or another.

My sister came with me to watch a high school basketball state semi-final game last year.  The referees were clearly not calling the game fair.  A bully of a player on the opposing team took full advantage of that fact and brutalized our players.  “Ill-gotten gain,” I muttered.  “Cheaters never prosper!,” I yelled.    Of course we won the game.  And the next game, too.  State Champs.

My sister apparently relayed the events of the game to her husband because later he mocked, “So that’s how Christians talk smack?”

Mock all you want, I know who I am.

Sometimes we try to build a child’s self-esteem by giving him/her a trophy for showing up.  Or by telling the child he/she is wonderful with words that have no gold to back them.  But my self-esteem was built one proud-of-myself decision-followed-by-action brick at a time.

Tomorrow a lesson from Selma.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”

faith, Food, life

Weighed and found Wanting?

The Hubster gave me a snazzy kitchen scale for Christmas.  It has all the features I need to portion out well balanced meals for my friends and to weigh ingredients when I bake.

Back in May, it gave me some trouble.  The batteries died.  Happily, I had a bulk package of CR2032s on hand.  But none of them got it working for more than a few seconds.  Was it a bum pack of batteries, or a bum scale?  I went to the store and bought a new, non-bulk pack.  Still nothing.  So I e-mailed the company:

Good morning,
I am having trouble with my scale, which I have had since December 2013. Lately it has been shutting off a few seconds after I turn it on.  Or Lo will come up on the screen and then it shuts off.  I replaced the batteries but that did not make a difference.  Can you tell me what the trouble might be and how to fix it?

Susan’s reply came immediately:

Thank you for contacting us.  I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with your scale.  The scale’s behavior shutting off right after turning on is very unusual, especially since you’ve changed the batteries.
I want to assure you that we take customer satisfaction very seriously, and I will be happy to send you a complementary replacement scale right away.

While I waited for the replacement to arrive, I gave it one more try.  I bought a different brand of batteries.  They worked.  My scale was back in business.

And then the replacement arrived.

Me to me:  I should send it back since the original is working again.
Me back to me:  But what if it’s only temporary?  Hold onto the new one just in case.

It’s been five months and I have not opened the package because I might be able to send it back.  But I hold onto it just in case.  Every time I feel confident that I can safely return it, the batteries die.  Three times in the last five months.

Five months of ongoing debate:  Keep it or send it back?

I should send it back.  The original scale does work again.  But is it supposed to blow through batteries so quickly?  What if it dies as soon as I let the replacement go?

What if it dies as soon as I let the replacement go?

The whole thing teetered on that.  The scale has a one year replacement guarantee.  If I send it back and then the original dies, I’ll have to write them again.  Embarrassing.  But if it continues to work, and I keep the replacement, dishonest gain.

But the real crazy is the angst over a $65 scale. Why were security and integrity hanging so intensely in the balance in an unopened package on my dining room buffet?

Yesterday I finally decided to get the monkey off my back.  I decided to take it to the post office, wave bye-bye and bask in the glow of impeccable honesty.

What does it profit a woman to gain a new kitchen scale, and forfeit her soul?

But first I e-mailed the company:

Dear Susan,
It has been a little over 5 months since we last corresponded.  Thank you so much for sending the replacement scale.  While I was waiting for it to arrive, I tried another package of batteries, and then another.  Finally the scale worked again.  So, I did not open the package with the replacement scale, but I held onto it just in case.  In the 5 months since then, I have had to replace the batteries about 3 times.  I discovered that some brands of batteries work and some don’t.

If it is normal to have to replace the batteries that often (I use the scale twice a day), then I am going to send the unopened replacement back to you.  If it is not normal, then I am going to finally open it and use it.  Please let me know.

Late last night, just before bed, I received her reply:

3 sets of batteries in 5 months is definitely a bit too frequent, but I can’t say it is abnormal, since it depends on the quality of the batteries. I would suggest opening the new one and see if it has better battery usage. If that’s the case, you can then keep the original as a backup.

Please don’t worry about sending us the replacement scale.  It is for you to keep! 🙂

The smiley face might mean that she thinks I’m a bit crazy, or she might have just been smiling because she was giving me a gift.  Instead of heading up to bed, I went straight to the dining room.  Opening a package at midnight felt a little like Christmas.

I’ll be using my new scale in exactly two weeks when I make my annual sweet potato rolls.  My guilt free sweet potato rolls.