Sunday, October 30, 2005

Making Amends

For a significant part of my life, I was blessed with a furry companion, my cat Tiger. She was with me for 12 years, from the days of my first high school boyfriend, through my college years, my first job, my first house, and my relocation to California. Throughout all these years, and all this change, Tiger was a constant fixture, my four-legged companion and friend. She passed away two years ago.

As a tribute, I had a custom frame built, that included two pictures of her, the little bell she wore around her neck, her favorite toy (a piece of speaker wire !), and the heart-shaped tag engraved with her name and my previous phone number.

After some time, however, this composition began to fall apart. The speaker wire, meticulously and expertly glued in place by my former husband, became separated. The mat underneath was irreparably stained, and needed replacement. I went to a frame store near my new apartment to order one.

There, I gave them a baggie with the mementoes, and a rough drawing of the desired layout. I returned a couple of weeks later to pick up the finished piece.

The heart-shaped tag was missing.

Tiger's tag, the one she had worn on her collar, was gone.

To say I was upset is an understatement. It was all I could do to keep the tears at bay. This, and the fact that the batty lady who initially took my order had messed up my name, my address AND my phone number, led me to ask nicely for a discount. The assistant manager was kind enough to grant me one.

Tiger's tag was gone ! Even though I could make another one, it would not be the same. I sadly accepted, however, that this was what I needed to do. I guess it is a good thing that I didn't get around to it.

A few days ago, while unloading groceries from my car, I found the tag. It was at the bottom of the trunk, underneath my CERT helmet, hidden from view until that moment.

The store hadn't lost it. I had.

An ocean's wave of guilt washed over me. Why didn't I check that the tag was in the baggie before I handed it to the dumb lady behind the counter ? She may have been reprimanded because of my mistake. And even though she had erred on every part of my contact information, I was still given a discount that I wasn't truly entitled to.

Standing at the crossroads of this new discovery, I asked myself the two critical questions:

What would someone with integrity do ?

Someone with integrity would walk into the store, apologize for the error, and offer to pay back the discount.

Would I like myself if I didn't do this ?


I didn't have to go back to the store. It would have been easier just to let it go. I could have justified taking the discount because of the multitude of mistakes, and the almost 45 minutes of my time taken by the scatterbrained lady behind the counter.

But that's not the person that I want to be.

So yesterday, I went back. I found the assistant manager, and with every shred of courage I could muster, I looked him in the eye and apologized for my mistake. Thankfully, he was understanding. He even refused my offer to take back the discount. I left the store, with a newly-purchased frame for another item, and a huge weight off my shoulders.

Last night, for dinner, I ate a healthy serving of crow. And as I lay my head on my pillow and drifted to sleep, I was at peace.

Tiger's tag was in its rightful place.

And so was my conscience.

Link: [Sad News About Tiger, 11/2003]


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