Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Super Positivity #2: No Need to Thank Me, Umberto Eco!

This is Super Positivity #2! Click here for Super Positivity #1!

I got such a positive response last time that I thought I'd make it a regular feature. Here's how it works! It's easy! Share a little light with the world, why don't you.

In the comments queue, leave a little story of a time when you did something for another or for others, or just something right "on principle" when nobody could have called you on it; something that made you happy to have done the right thing, some act of helping someone out when you didn't have to, some moment where you took the opportunity to step up and save the day! In some big or little way.

That's it! It's as easy as that. It's not about bragging or showing off. Sharing tidbits like these helps get us all thinking about what we all do, throughout the day. Helps put us in a mindframe where maybe we might give a bit more thought to doing something, even something small, to make a difference in the right direction. That's what Super Positivity is all about! Not "pay it forward," so much as "spread it around."

As always, here's one from me to kick it off. To illustrate my point of "even something small," this one here is pretty damn miniscule. But if I say so myself, it makes a heart-warming story!

I was in the airport and for the flight, I like a variety of reading material to choose from as I wing my way in comfort to my destination. So at the airport rag and junk shop I bought a copy of a book, and three magazines. Now I know what you're thinking: the first two magazines were something like Discover and Scientific American, and the third magazine was something like Skin Art Photographic Revue or Nude Tattooed Babes With Machine Guns Sprawling On Curvaceous Cars, right? Sandwiched between the two "respectable" magazines...? Hand it to the cashier all nonchalant, with a barely-suppressed wink? Well that's where you're WRONG! In fact, I didn't even get that third magazine. I only got the two. Shows what you know about my mind! Which I assure you is sparkling clean.

What a clean mind I have. I don't even like tattoos and machine guns, particularly.

But that's not the point of the story! Or at least, not the whole point. The rest of the point was, the book was priced about 15 bucks, and of course magazines these days are pretty expensive, like five or six bucks apiece in an airport, and my total rang up to $17! I paid without thinking and was walking out, back into the concourse, when suddenly a gear or two turned upstairs and I realized something didn't add up. How could a $15 book plus two expensive-ass magazines tally up to $17? My receipt told the tale: the book had rung up at $0.00 - zero dollars!

Now that I think about it, I must have bought three magazines. There's no way that two magazines could have come up to seventeen bucks by themselves, even at airport prices. I wonder what that third magazine could have been? Heck, it's probably not important. On with with the story.

So I walked back in and confronted the cashier with her error. My book, which should have cost $15.99 or so, had in fact cost me nothing! I wished to rectify the situation, perhaps with a bit of money changing hands, a small but all-important sum, crossing the right palm. I like to support literature when I can, after all! I certaintly didn't want to feel as though I'd ripped off Umberto Eco, whose Foucault's Pendulum it was, suspended at the heart of this sudden controversy. Certainly an author like that, a book like that, deserves a bit of cash involvement on the retail transaction. Otherwise it's like: screw you Umberto. Your book is worth nulla lire.

Anyway, the cashier took the book, and looked at the receipt, checked the computer and sure enough! I'd been given a free ride at the expense of what should have been a fairly expensive literary item! She thanked me very much - said she'd have come up short in the drawer at the end of her shift, if I hadn't come back to settle up accounts. Also, it turned out the book was coded funky in the computer, so that anyone else trying to buy it, would also have been rung up free and gratis! In the light of that, I feel that my small deed, in some very meaningful way, helped out Umberto Eco a bit into the bargain.

A small thing perhaps! But you are quite welcome, Signor Eco.


Sarah said...

One time, I didn't hit this bitch in the face when she totally had it comin'.
I'm your basic Mother Teresa.

dogimo said...

That's true! It's very true. I heard a story once about Mother Teresa where she did the exact same thing! (basically) I couldn't swear that the bitch in question actually did have it coming, but it's an attested fact that Mother Teresa totally didn't hit her in the face.

I hope that if I am ever in that same situation, I can draw on that for strength and act according to that example. People like you and Mother Teresa can be an inspiration to us all in some mysterious way!

Mel said...

For about six months now I have been buying my train ticket from the same ticket dude. The dialogue has never changed from the following for all that time…

Ticket dude: “Hello”

Me: “Hello… Adult return to the city thanks”

Ticket dude: *hands over ticket and change*

But on Monday I took it to the next level. I figured me and ticket dude go way back, so I mixed it up as follows …

Ticket dude: “Hello”

Me: “Hello… Adult return to the city thanks. Did you have a nice Christmas?”

Ticket dude: “yes I did!, what I remember of it”

Me: “Haha!, that’s the way. The ticket prices have gone up haven’t they?

Ticket dude: “yes, ridiculously” *hands over ticket and less change than usual*

I felt good for taking the time to engage with him. I think my sparkling repartee made his day.

dogimo said...

I'm sure it did!

It always makes mine, anyhow.

blue said...

I'll confess that I don't usually do this sort of thing. Sometimes, sometimes not. Usually not if I've already left the arena in which the error took place, unless it's some kind of small independent shop. I don't think I'd do it in an airport store, no way! After they charge me $1.25 for an apple? It's pay/debt karma in some cases, if you ask me. They rip off enough people, they make a mistake in their inventory system, it's their problem.

Not that I advocate stealing, which some people see this sort of thing as. To me, though, stealing requires intent. Which is why, say, if I see that I'm being charged for the less-expensive cucumber when I know that's a french zucchini, I will tell the clerk. But if I get outside and I see that they didn't charge me for the whatever, I'm not bothering to go back in and fix their mistake for them. (Unless, as I said, it's some little independent, because they have a harder time surviving.)

I think I used to be less hard-nosed about this type of thing. But I think enough experiences where I was actually cheated out of charges, overpayments, refunds, and the like has led me to the point where I say if there's an error in my favor, what I got is mine. They get errors in their favor as well, and I've never had a store or clerk correct anything in my favor unless I pointed it out and showed overwhelming evidence to prove my case (sometimes not even then).