I am just standing in the “14 items or less” express line at Hannaford with my gallons of water, 1% milk, slightly green bananas, and the Sunday New York Times. Just as I am putting the milk on the conveyor belt, I see two dollar bills on the floor by the hand baskets customers use if they only have a few items.
I pick up the bills and immediately hand them to the cashier, who looks like a high school student, saying, I just found these two dollars and I want to give them to you. I thought it would be nice to give them to the young man.
What do you think he says? It’s not “thanks.”
He gets on the grocery store intercom and says, Manager to aisle 7. He looks at me and says, I can’t take this. It would be embezzling. And I don’t want to lose my job over two dollars.
I’m stunned, and then again I’m not. Embezzling doesn’t seem to quite capture our interaction. I guess it’s corporate policy that employees can’t accept gifts on the job.
Hannah once gave a terrific tech at Best Buy a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card for going above and beyond rescuing our computer. He said he couldn’t take the gift card, but thanks anyway.
So I say to the efficient young man, It’s just a gift. But he goes about his business checking my items and wants no part of my misguided generosity. Soon the manager comes over to hear the cashier’s explanation, takes the two dollars, and is gone with the wind.
Ever pleasant, the young man repeats that it would be embezzling if he took the money. I think to protest more, but he’s got his corporate face on and the two dollars are long since gone.
A lady in her sixties in line in front of me smiles and enjoys the whole interaction. She says, Hannaford’s will know what honest employees they have. I smile and nod.
Still this is not what I thought would happen.
Next time when I find money, I’ll do the pay for the car behind me at the tollbooth thing.
You know, I’ll give it to the clerk and say, Please apply this to the bill of the person behind me.
Or would that be embezzling, too? Nah, not in my world.