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If crime doesn’t pay, then honesty should be rewarded!


I am too honest. I really am. I’m the kind of person who corrects the cashier at Safeway when she charges me for cheap, ordinary Gala apples when in fact I’ve purchased exceedingly expensive Jazz apples.

I’ve always been this way. I can’t keep things I find on the sidewalk. I never cheated on a test in my life. And I actually feel compelled to return that extra nickel when the young man at Dunkin Donuts makes the wrong change from my $20. (Well, in my register-ringing teens, our pay got docked for every penny we fell short.)

C'mon TJ's. Give me a break.

But today I feel genuinely ripped off. And it’s all because of my insane honesty. I went to Trader Joe’s. (Yes, I’m obsessed about shopping there. I go there at least 5 times a week. But that’s another issue we can contemplate in the future.) Much to my delight, I remembered to bring in my reusable grocery bags. I normally end up running back to the car to retrieve them just as I’m entering the check-out lane.

As you probably know, Trader Joe’s offers a kind of incentive program for bringing in your own bags. Every time you use your own, you get to fill out a ticket for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate. I’ve been entering this weekly lottery for over a year. But much to my chagrin, I have never won. This seems odd to me. For someone who enters as often as I do, I was fairly certain that I would have been victorious by now. And for some reason, I really want to win this. It has taken me a great deal of energy and effort to consistently remember to bring in those dumb canvas bags, and now I want to be rewarded for it.

When they first started the program, they always gave me a ticket as I checked out. But, over time, they have become a bit chintzy with the tickets. I sometimes go weeks without being given one. I know that I could ask for one. But I’m kind of embarrassed about it. I don’t want to seem too needy or competitive. So I generally smile a little less brightly and just head out to the car disappointedly with my cadre of environmentally protective reusable bags.

But today, the gentleman ringing me up actually remembered to give me a ticket to fill out for the auction. My face lit up. I smiled and murmured some hopeful remark about it perhaps finally being my time for the big win. He affirmed my wishful philosophy by reminding me that somebody has to win. Why couldn’t it be me?

I bagged my groceries as he continued to ring up the items in my cart. That’s when I saw it. There was a second blank ticket just barely visible underneath a stack of brown paper bags. “OMG,” I thought. “I could fill that out too and then I’d for sure end up winning.” I unobtrusively palmed the extra ticket and secretly slid it over to me. When the cashier was distracted, I picked it up. (I had already dropped the first one in the little tin at the front door.)

We talked cheerfully and he helped me bag the remainder of my groceries. “Just fill it out and drop it in the tin,” I said to myself. But I couldn’t do it. What if I did actually win and it was under this kind of false pretense? How could I live with myself?

After I was bagged and payed for, I held up the bonus ticket and announced, “Hey, here’s an extra one. I just found it lying up here.” “Thanks,” he said as he collected the still blank ticket. And that was it. He didn’t thank me for my honesty. He didn’t say, “Listen, just go ahead and fill this one in too. It’ll give you better odds for winning this week.” Nothing like that. He just thanked me and stuck the ticket in the register.

I am now certain that that ticket was the winning ticket. I deserved that ticket. I bet I enter this drawing more often than anyone else in the valley. How come I never win? That’s just weird. I’m starting to think it’s all a ruse. Maybe they don’t actually pick a winner every week. Maybe they do it like once every four months or something. Whatever they’re doing, they are pissing me off and I’m one of their best customers.

If Trader Joe’s is going to reward people for protecting the environment, you’d think they’d also want to positively reenforce the kind of honesty I displayed this morning. I mean, being green is one thing. But without good, old-fashioned honesty, this planet is seriously doomed.

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

2 responses to “If crime doesn’t pay, then honesty should be rewarded!

  1. collaborationconversation ⋅

    Wow, do I relate to this Trader Joe’s piece! I too am waiting for my big win, sad but true. Funny that you are in ‘the valley’. I had to look up your bio to find which one. I too am in the valley, the Pioneer Valley, also known as the Happy Valley in Massachusetts. Nice to know that I am not alone!

  2. Sarah ⋅

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t fill out the ticket–you could have seen it as THE ticket to represent all the times they have forgotten to give you one when you earned it!

    This post delighted me. You have a wonderful, irresistible style of writing. Thanks for sharing!

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