Monday, September 20, 2010


A few months ago, I was doing my regular shopping at Walmart. Among other things, I bought two cans of Parmesan cheese. I wasn't entirely sure I bought them at the time, though.

I wasn't paying all that much attention, but it looked like the kind lady at the register had put one of the cans in the bag without scanning it. I consider myself a pretty moral and honest person, but I didn't seriously consider pointing it out. It'd be nice if my subconscious had quickly ruled out that course of action as either unnecessary or inefficient; it'd be even nicer if I believed that to be true.

No, I immediately justified the unintentional discount in several ways. My subconscious was definitely thinking, but it was thinking greedily. But, when you think about it, they've overcharged me for a couple items in the past. And I definitely do way more than my fair share of correcting the product placements on the shelves. And when I take my shopping cart to the car, I always put it back in its designated area - and compact the carts already there, too! Why, I'll even go out of my way to remove shopping carts from the handicapped spaces when I see them. And I do give Walmart a lot of regular business. Retailers build these kinds of mistakes into their prices, after all.

In my defense, there were also a couple of points in Walmart's favor in the battle in my head. I fully appreciated that not ringing up the Parmesan cheese would throw off their inventory until their next manual recount. And, it is Parmesan cheese, and if there was ever a product that deserved to be paid for, it is cheese - especially Parmesan! But I've done cycle counting, and the mistake would be corrected remarkably shortly - if people were doing their jobs properly. And food does taste better when it's free.

Yeah, that Parmesan was going to stay mine. Guilt lasts until you forget about it, and that was likely to be before bed. Parmesan lasts all the way until you eat it (which wasn't actually all that much longer)!

It's remarkable how easy it was to justify an action I knew was wrong. Incidentally, this post is proof that I underestimated my memory when it comes to guilt. I'm sure I understated the awesomeness of Parmesan cheese, too, though. Also, I did check the receipt on my way out, so I didn't leave the store thinking I'd stolen cheese. I still like to think I would have gone back and paid for it had I seen that it was, in fact, missed.

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