Monday, February 10, 2014

Restoring my faith in mankind...

I received an interesting phone call a few days ago that really made my day.  I was attempting to get things organized before teaching my afternoon piano lessons and I was trying to load the dishwasher while simultaneously making myself a cup of coffee when the phone rang.  I really had no patience to take any call, but picked it up anyways.  The minute I heard the woman rambling in fast-paced Hebrew, my brain just froze.  "Whoa, slow down for a minute," I said in Hebrew and requested that she speak slowly.  She slowed down, but I still had no idea what she was talking about.  She said something about a reciept from Fox, the Israeli version of Old Navy, and money and points.  I honestly had no idea what she was talking about.  I told her that I hadn't been to Fox in a while and didn't make any purchases - I thought for a moment that she worked at Fox and was trying to tell me about an upcoming sale.  She took a deep breath and started from the beginning.  This was the story:

She told me that she had gone into Fox to return a purchase and then, in turn, exchange it for something else.  The item she wanted to exchange it for was more money so she had to pay the excess amount in cash but the Fox employee asked her if she wanted to use her Isracard (credit card) points instead and she agreed.  Apparently - and I don't know how this happened -  by accident, the Fox employee used MY points and gave them to this woman.  I don't know why they couldn't redo the entire bill from scratch, but instead they gave this woman my phone number.  (We won't discuss how unprofessional that was...) She told me about the points that she had that were really mine.  I use my points whenever I have them, so I was unsure of what to do about this.  She said that she would mail me the shekel equivalent which is one shekel per point.  I thought about it for a minute and then said that that would be okay. I then asked her how many of my points she'd been given.  She responded 6.  

I was flabbergasted.  This entire phone call was about 6 shekel.  Basically, less than $2.  I couldn't believe that she went to all this trouble over 6 shekel.  I thanked her for calling and told her to put the money into the tzedakah (charity) box.  She asked me several times if I was sure that's okay and I put her worries to rest, thanked her and got off the phone.  I was honestly speechless.  

I've discovered over the years that people are divided into two distinct groups.  You are either an optomist or you're a pessimist.  You're either the kind of person who looks for that silver lining on that dark cloud, and recognizes that their cup is half full of water as opposed to those who bring with their umbrella on that clear and sunny day and perpetually see their glass as half empty.  I'm one of those optomists.  My husband loosely translates my optimism as gullibility.  And he would argue that there are three distinct groups and not two.  And that he is neither an optomist or a pessimist, but rather a card-carrying member of this third group: a realist.  (I think realists are just pessimists in disguise...) When we were dating I received some letter in the mail about a free trip to some tropical destination and all we needed to do was sit in on some real estate conference about a new condo going up by Lake Ontario.  I was all ready to clear my schedule and go down there when he just sadly shook his head wondering how he ended up with a gullible girl like me... I admittedly buy lottery tickets every once in a while believing in my sixth sense that this will be the week we will become millionaires.  He takes the air out of my balloon as he explains the ridiculous odds of my winning.  And while I lose most of the time, I have won up to 200 shekel in the past.  And while, long term, I spend more on the lottery tickets than I take in winnings, I still feel like a winner.  When I told my husband of this phone call, he made a face and then said that he hoped I didn't give her my address.  I assured him that I hadn't, but didn't understand why he was worried.  He said he didn't believe a word of it and maybe the woman was trying to get my address for another reason.  That maybe she was up to something more sinister than trying to return my 6 shekel.  

Being the optomist that I am, I've chosen to believe that she was honest and had done something remarkable.  She was following her conscience and wanted to do the right thing - and it was really never about the amount of money but about the principle of returning something that belonged to someone else.  It reminded me about a Friends episode where Pheobe suddenly discovered that the bank had inadvertently deposited $500 into her account, and while her friends came up with all sorts of ideas of how to spend the money, she couldn't bring herself to keep it.  What was even more comedic was when she telephoned the bank and told them about their mistake, they apologized and the next day Pheobe discovered another $500 added to her already inflated account.  Rachel told her to just accept the gift and buy new boots, but Pheobe said that she couldn't wear a pair of boots bought with that money - that with every step she took she would hear the boots clicking, "not mine, not mine, not mine."  She ended up giving the money to a homeless woman.  I would never have known (or cared) about the missing 6 shekel and the loss of those few shekels would have had zero impact on my life, but she clearly didn't want to benefit from using my 6 shekel without my permission.  I have had instances in the past where I'd been give the wrong change - to my benefit - from shop owners.  I could have walked away and pocketed the extra cash, but I've always been unfailingly honest about things like that and have always returned the correct amount.  But this was the first time I was on the receiving end of such honesty.  It put a smile on my face and it's moments like these that restore my faith in mankind.

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