I walked in a store.

I took five things in my arms and I walked out of the store without paying.

Everyone saw me do it but no one did anything.

Did I hurt anyone?

Does it matter if I took something that didn’t belong to me?

Does it matter if I did or did not have the money to pay for them?

Does it matter if I threw the things away when I left the store because they had no value to me?

Does it matter that I didn’t pay for things that I took?

I recently wrote about integrity-

https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2022/08/11/integrity/

Does this story mesh with the conversation that we had?

If you take something that costs money and do not pay for it, are you acting with integrity?

(and for all those who don’t know me- this is a theoretical exercise. I abhor shoplifting.)

54 thoughts on “Anything Can Happen Friday: Integrity

  1. Don’t know if it’s just WP being weird or something more but when I click on the link I’m not getting your post- it’s taking me to odd WP sites and sign in pages?? Isn’t integrity linked to honesty and morally proper behavior? Stealing isn’t acting with integrity, but I suspect you are looking for more with this post. I’m going back to your full blog if WP will let me cause I think there’s something I’m missing!

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      1. See, morally we are taught that you don’t do that, even if it’s taking a paper clip from work. But reality tells me differently- we don’t always follow that moral rule

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      2. I admit to my own moral code. Walking out of work with a paper clip or pen is okay, taking reams of paper and my desk chair is not. Does that mean it’s okay to take something small- perhaps that can be hidden?? Maybe, but in many ways it’s a value limit. One paper clip out of the cases sitting in storage is okay and of insignificant value in my eyes. I clearly see where you are coming from though- how and when do individuals and society draw a line on acceptable or not. Why do we not simply believe it’s an all or nothing deal when it comes to morality? I don’t think humans function that way. I think most of us like that brief moment of rule breaking and/or getting to define the rules in place.

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      3. First two anecdotes…when I was in college, one summer I worked as a cashier at a department store. This was the 80s so credit receipts were physical, had to be signed by pen (remember the carbon copy). We had to supply our own pens!! Then, in the 90s I worked for a large investment bank. We were not allowed to order paper clips from supply. But to the other point…how do we determine which laws are “bendable”? Is it ok if a person cheats on their taxes, but not a corporation? Driving 60 in a 55 zone highway might not be a big deal, but driving 30 in a 25mile school zone might be…we either have rules or we don’t.

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  2. No, that is definitely not acting with integrity. It doesn’t belong to you (the theoretical you), and you are hurting other people by shoplifting. We all pay more for goods to cover that theft. If you take it out to Les Miserables, I think we are dealing with a much more complicated issue where someone steals food to sustain the life of one he loves. It’s still not right, but it becomes a societal issue of why children are going hungry and there are no resources for them. Then a lot more elements are at play, and the most important ones should be grace and mercy.

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  3. My sense of morality or my views of right or wrong are always offended when I think of people stealing or doing the wrong thing. However, I suppose if I were to see someone stealing right in front of me I’d take into account the person doing the stealing. If it was a homeless person, a special needs individual, or someone who seemed in dire straits, I might look the other way. I doubt it, but I would assess the entire situation. Or perhaps I’d hand them a couple dollars so they could pay for their items. I do realize that sometimes life is unfair and certain people are doing what they can to survive. So I suppose my reaction would have to depend on the situation, the wrong doer, or if I was afraid that telling on them would get me killed.

    But…Obviously, someone with integrity wouldn’t steal. Or would they? Unless… that individual had to feed a child or was in a life threatening situation. Who knows what motivates someone to break the law? My first instinct would be to alert the store manager. (The teacher in me tries to look at the “whole” situation before acting or reacting). I learned about Gestalt principles when getting my educational degree and I really liked that concept. (The Gestalt Theory is based on the idea that learning is a result of observing and comprehending stimuli in relation to one another, not just individually. The theory emphasizes the importance of an individual’s awareness of their environment and how it integrates with their previous knowledge and experience).

    Soooo based on that theory, I guess I would have to determine if the thief was a person with or without integrity before I called law enforcement and reported them. I normally don’t like people getting away without facing the consequences of their actions. But, now and then there are exceptions to the rule. . What an interesting blog!

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    1. I think there’s so much grey to everything we do. I’m a rule girl, so I don’t like the thought of taking things regardless the circumstances. The problem is the brazen taking of goods that happens now

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      1. I agree. My first response would always be to report a theft. But, Who knows what I’d do at a moment in time if I felt my life or the lives of people I was with were in danger. I don’t know. It would haunt me if I let a criminal get away.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s immoral and anyone who does that lacks integrity. It’s become very brazen lately. My mom works at Walgreens and when someone shoplifts, you can’t do anything about it. In fact, her previous manager was fired for trying to stop a woman leaving with a bunch of items. So you might as well welcome the shoplifters in.

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    1. People are worried about self checkouts taking jobs…really…what’s taking jobs is stores closing because they lose too much inventory…which is what’s happening here

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  5. It’s really mind blowing the changes in “norms” from one generation to another. For example, my husband loaned the deposit for a rental house for my son and roommates. My son paid his own as did another roommate. A roommate who is moving out has not paid us back. It’s been 10 months. Our son felt it was unethical to ask for our money– because we have money and the woman moving out does not. I believe these are the same people who think it’s okay to shoplift. They don’t see a line between what belongs to whom and who has rights to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No. It’s unethical for her not to pay you back. You gave the money with good faith that it would be returned. What she did was steal. Taking money as a loan and not paying it back is stealing. And now you probably get where I’m going with this thought post

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  6. Okay, I’ll play along. Yes, it’s wrong to steal, to walk out with something that is not yours. Yes, I have some understanding if there are extenuating circumstances, feeding family, poverty, etc., but it’s still taking something that is not yours. Some may say, you’re just taking from a store or business, but the end of the day, the action is still the same: taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

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  7. Yes, it is wrong. Is there a difference between the brazen theif who just doesn’t care and the ones who are desperate, yes. Though I think people with high integrity still wouldn’t steal EVEN in difficult circumstances. But without being in dire circumstances its hard to say for sure. I like to think that I wouldn’t.
    I do know of stories where people have taken without being caught and they have gone back sometimes years later to confess and pay for what they took. That is integrity!

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      1. And there is another way to think about “stealing” too. What about the employee that takes an extra 10 minute lunchbreak knowing they won’t be caught. Or spends 15 minutes in the day on a private phone call when they are supposed to be working. Not an emergency call, but you know you can get away with it. Isn’t that stealing time from your employer? Is that a lack of integrity as well?

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      2. Totally. While I know that some things must be done on business hours…you need to do that as little as possible…and respectful that work comes first

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  8. I accidentally walked out of target and returned home with an unpaid for item in my cart. It wasn’t expensive. But my guilt was over the top. I should’ve taken it back! But then I put it off and eventually it was added to my stuff. I still kick myself every time I go to target.

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    1. I did that at Home Depot like 30 years ago. And it was like a crew type thing that literally cost about .10, and it still bothers me!! Crazy, right?

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