I don’t remember ever playing the game “Scruples,” but apparently it’s a game of ethical questions. The questions might include, for example, whether you’d leave a note with your name and phone number if you damaged a car in the parking lot and no one saw you do it.
I didn’t play yesterday either, but .. Well, here’s the story.
I went to the grocery store in the morning, as I do nearly every day. I selected my groceries, and headed up to the register. Since I am a frequent shopper, I’ve seen all the cashiers quite a few times, so the cashier and I said our good mornings and how-do-you-dos and then she started with her normal job ringing up my goodies.
The bill came to $39.82 and I handed her $40 in cash. I packed my bags, looked around at other shoppers, glanced at some products, and stuck out my hand to take my change as my cashier handed it to me. She had given me bills and change and I saw on the register she had rung up $60 not $40.
So I said, “Did I give you $60? I thought I gave you $40” and she said she had made a mistake ringing it up, but that I had only given her $40. So I told her she had given me too much change. She said no, she was right, she had fixed the amount of change manually. I said no, she gave me too much. This went back and forth quite a few times until I took the receipt, and showed her that my bill was $39.82, and told her if I gave her $40, she only owed me 18 cents. I asked, did she really wanted to put extra money in her drawer that night when she came up short?
“NOOOO” she said with round eyes as it sunk in that she almost gave away too much money.
At this point, the man on line behind me told me I had just played the game of “Scruples,” and that the question of the game was, if the cashier gives you back too much money, would you insist she take it back. And I said, “Well, I would!” and he said, “obviously!”
So what’s the point? Well, first of all, in my book, doing the right thing is the right thing to do. I know some people don’t feel the same way (“well, if they gave it to you, then that’s their problem”) but that cashier doesn’t make a lot of money; $10 or $20 out of her pocket is going to hurt. Giving the money back to her, and pointing out that she had erred in her counting, is going to make her more careful to double check change going forward.
What’s the other point? If you do the wrong thing, people notice. I wasn’t paying attention to the line behind me at all. Had I done the wrong thing and kept the money, the gentleman behind me would have noticed. The cashier would have noticed at the end of the day. And I would have known. I felt wonderful when I left the store; had I kept the extra money, I would have felt like crap.
So life is a game of “Scruples” that everyone is playing along with you.