I work as a cashier in a small family-owned hardware store -- the old-fashioned kind, where you can still buy loose nails and screws, where they'll repair your windows and screens, and where old friends meet and stand around and talk for a few minutes to an hour on a quiet afternoon. We're a vanishing breed, but so far have managed to stay competitive with places like Home Depot and Lowe's -- we have things they don't, and we're more fun to visit -- at least, that's what our customers keep telling us, and I believe them.
A few nights ago at work, a fellow came into the store and bought two flexible pipe connectors, since he wasn't sure which one would fit. Now, this happens all the time; we have a very easy-going returns policy to accommodate it.
He came back an hour or so later with both connectors in tow; neither size fit, so he went back to the plumbing aisle to see if we had one that would. He consulted with the floor staff for a while and came back with an adapter and several other items, which he purchased. He kept one connector to use with the adapter, and returned the other.
All in a night's work, of course, and I didn't think any more about it until a few minutes before closing when he came back in. "Did it not work?" I wondered, but he plopped a roll of tape on the counter and said, "I got home with this, and used some of it, but I realized I didn't pay for it. It must have gotten put into the bag without us noticing."
I remembered the roll of tape, and I thought I had scanned it, but maybe I missed it. The guy's honesty really touched me; if I'd been the manager I'd have just let him have the tape, and I told him that, but since he said he didn't pay for it I had to go ahead and charge him for it. It was all of 96 cents (including tax). But he made the trip back to be sure he paid for it. I thanked him profusely, of course, and told him it was wonderful to see such honesty. And he said "you guys helped me out so much, I'm glad to do it."
So both he and I concluded our evening with warm feelings and pleasure at good things accomplished. That's the kind of thing that gives me hope. :)