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Every once in awhile, something happens to me that is so different from the norm, that I have to ask myself, “What is the meaning of this? Why did this happen?” Sometimes, (not always), the answer to that question comes to me pretty quickly. Such was the situation the past few days, when a particularly unusual incident happened to me, and by last night, I was pretty clear why it had to happen. Okay – I won’t keep you in suspense. Here’s what happened.
Early in the week, I attended an event in the evening on the West Side of LA, and while I was trying to park my huge van in the dark, unlit parking lot, I somehow managed to bang ever-so-slightly – but most definitely into the rear bumper of another parked car. The woman who was out of her car, and claimed later she was gesticulating wildly to my unfocused eyes to me to realize that her car was too close, was very polite. The two of us exchanged information. Since the damage was two small scratches to the bumper of her car, she and I agreed that we would be in touch the next day or so, and I would pay for the damage. She wanted to take the car to her own body shop and I respected that. I asked her to try to get the lowest estimate possible, and she said she would do her best.
A few days later, after several phone calls back and forth between the lady and myself, (and a lot of angst and beating myself up of “ugh, I don’t need this now! This kind of expense is not what I need”), I decided to refrain from obsessing, and pay the fee and move on. Life happens, and be more careful in the future.
Little did I realize that this was only the beginning. On the evening of when I was supposed to pay the lady the cash, we met at the same parking lot (oy – this time I tried to find parking on the street!), at a specific time, and we sat down together on a bench and I gave her the envelope with the money. She counted out the money, and told me right then and there, “Uh – I think you gave me too much.” I said, “no, it can’t be. I counted it out to make sure. Are you sure?” And she said, “let’s count,” and she counted the bills, and sure enough there was one extra bill.
She smiled and handed me back the bill (more than $20 – let’s just say), and I put it into my purse, and said, “wow- I guess the teller made a mistake…”
Anyway, we signed some releases that she had prepared. She gave me the receipt for the estimate, and we said we’d like to keep in touch… She gave me a hug, and that is when I decided to ask her,
“Are you a grandmother?”
“Yes, a very proud one.”
“Well, I’m the recent author of a newly released book about being a grandmother, and maybe you’d like to google it and read it…”
“Wow – I think I will do that. What is the title? What is it about? Well, I guess I know the author’s name! I can find out myself.”
To which I gave her the name of my book, and other info.
I asked her if she was Jewish, and she answered that no, she is not. Then I told her that my book as a lot of Jewish terms, with many of them being translated and explained in the back Glossary. She said, “well, living here in Southern California, we all know those terms! How could we not?”
We said good-bye, and that was the end of the interaction.
While I was driving home, I thought to myself several things. First, how happy I was that the discrepancy in the amount wasn’t the other way around – meaning, thank G-d I had the right amount of money and not too little.
Secondly, I felt good that before the Jewish New Year, it is pretty clear to me (and even any time of the year), that my next stop this morning is straight to the bank. I will ask to speak to the manager, and return the extra money that does not belong to me.
Because at this time of year, and always, we know that the amount of money we make or earn – no matter how hard we try to do our efforts at working hard…and other behaviors that need fine-tuning… (being careful when we drive!!! Yikes – the writer in me was distracted!!), the bottom line is that when and where we falter, is really up to G-d. We are not in control (although we feel as if we are).
We always have choices to do the right thing or not. Doing the right thing at every step of the way seems to be easier for me than wondering what the outcome is. (see my friend, Adina’s blog on this: adinagres.wordpress.com – great blog!)
Now – to the bank for me. (I’m hoping secretly that the banker will reward me for my honesty!) In any case, the bottom line is this: the lady’s car may have been scratched; that can be fixed – but not a scratch on my conscience – that is something I don’t want to have. That’s harder to repair.
Addendum – CHECKS AND BALANCES: I went to the bank, explained the situation to the teller who was there. She called the manager immediately who asked me a few questions about when I was there for the withdrawal. I answered her, she thanked me for the return of the money. All eyes (about four or five people plus some managers) were on me, as they watched me return some cash. Apparently, (they told me) that they were out of balance on Wednesday and now their books can once more be in balance for that teller that day. Whew.
See? Sometimes it is really good to just adjust our checks and balances in our behaviors, if not our budgets! (And that’s me, the Jewish mother of an accountant speaking!)
Tags: accident, accounting, banking, body shop, car, checks and balances, conscience, G-d's plan, honesty, interaction, money, New Year