Creekbank Blog

The writing blog of Curt Iles and Creekbank Stories. Our mission: To connect hearts to God by using stories of encouragement and inspiration.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I'm "manic writing" today, catching up on stories I've had stored in my mind and on my laptop. Being delayed in an airport isn't all bad if you've got something to write or read.

I hope you enjoy this story. I really appreciate all of you who faithfully visit my blog and social networks.

Here's a new story:

Shoplifting at the Crowley Wal Mart
: A Story on the "I" word*

The I word: Integrity.

It's bad enough to shoplift anywhere, but the Crowley (Louisiana) Wal Mart is a bad place to offend.

It's a famous store in Wal Mart lore. (The current location is a Supercenter, but the old store was an early small store location.

There are various versions of the following story. (You can learn more with a Google search.)

In the early days of the Crowley Wal Mart, shoplifting (or "shrinkage" as they call it) was a real problem. So management decided to post a worker at the door to discourage shoplifters and check bags.

It just so happens the workers were friendly and also greeted customers by name, since they knew nearly everyone in the small rice-farming town of Crowley.

The rest is history. It was the start of the Wal Mart greeter, a staple of their stores everywhere.
(One story tells of Sam Walton showing up "unannounced at the Crowley store" and being happily greeted. He went back to headquarters and made it a company-wide policy.) Regardless of how it actually happened, it soon became an American fixture and part of our language, "Well, you could be a greeter at Wal Mart.")

Back to shoplifting: Two weekends ago I passed through Crowley late at night returning from the La. Book Festival in Baton Rouge. I made a quick Wal Mart stop. Among the items placed in my cart was a small watch battery. To keep from losing it, I slipped it inside a binder I was buying.

And I walked out of the store (past two greeters) with my shoplifted watch battery among my paid items. At my vehicle, I began looking for the item and couldn't find it. Finally, I remembered where I'd placed it for "safekeeping."

Of course, I also realized I'd not paid for it.

It was late on Saturday night.
I was ready to get home to Dry Creek.
I had a sermon to preach the next morning.

I really didn't want to go back in the store.
One Wal Mart visit per day (or even week) is way more than enough for me.

I looked at the battery, searched my original receipt hoping it had been scanned, and wondered how long the line inside would be.

I told myself, I could just go on. Maybe take care of it next time I'm in a store.

No one would know.

Yes, no one would know.
Except me.
And expect God.
And that second Someone is pretty important.

Sheepishly I re-entered the store.
The clerk was surprised to see me again. She was also surprised at my story. As you can see from the above receipt, it was just $4.00.

But it was an integrity test.

A test to find out what I really believed. My favorite definition of integrity comes from John Maxwell, "Integrity is who you are when no one's looking, and what you'll stand up for even if you're standing alone."

Driving home, I recalled a TV report from another Wal Mart: in New Orleans in the days after Katrina's devastation. A middle-aged man was coming out of a vandalized Wal Mart with an armload of bottled water and food. He approached the TV camera and said, "I want you to know that I'm making a list of everything I have here and will be back the day this store re-opens to pay for every item. I'm only taking what we need to survive."

The man's intense eyes and words told me he was a man of his word. He had integrity. The storm had taken a lot of things from him but hadn't robbed him of his integrity.

I was reminded of F.B. Meyer's words on Joseph (of the Old Testament when Potiphar's wife had pulled his coat off in her aggressive movements to pull him down)

"Although Joseph was stripped of his garment, he wasn't stripped of his integrity."

Integrity. It's a trait that no one can take from a man or woman. It can only be surrendered by an individual.

May God help each of us make up our mind to be possessors of integrity in both small and large ways.



At 5:15 PM, Blogger Angie said...

I once had to go back into a store to pay for a tube of lipstick I had tucked into my pocket so it wouldn't fall through the holes in the cart.


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