July 30th, 2006
I have a series of posts that I owe people. They're generally for public consumption though.
This one in particular is for sigje on the theme of trusting in man.
My father at one point held a job at the Los Angeles Zoo. He ran one of the stands that sell refreshments. Mind you, this was a very long time ago -- during the 50s, when he was a teenager.
An amusing side note -- in a rush, one morning he accidentally created orange soda. He had a dry ice pack and an ice chest and needed to get some fruit juice ("True Fruit" was the brand as I recall) cold quickly. He threw the dry ice pack in, got to work elsewhere, and retrieved the pack from the drink -- to his dismay, there were these sort of greasy, green bubbles coming up from the bottom. He figured he'd play it by ear. It turned out people loved the stuff. He couldn't figure it out -- he'd tried the stuff before and hated it, but people kept coming back for more and more of the stuff. He sneaked a cup out during an idle moment and figured out why. Proof that if you carbonate things, it instantly gains several levels in flavor.
One day a customer came to him with a receipt and claimed that he hadn't had something in his meal. The customer offered to bring his wife over -- who had ordered the meal. Being more concerned with pleasing the customer, my dad refunded part of the price up front with the understanding that the customer would come by later and prove that the meal had been incomplete.
(The details on this story are a little fuzzy, but that was the gist)
The end of the day comes and as my dad's clearing out the register, he notices he's off by $2.00. He remembered the incident and realized he needed to tell his boss.
So, he goes to his boss's office and explains that his register was off and goes into the details. His boss says "Come in here, W-. Take a seat and close the door behind you." Instantly, my dad thinks "Well, I guess that's it then. I'll need to find a new job."
His boss told him: "I know it's hard especially after being cheated like this, but you did the right thing. Never lose faith in humanity." And didn't fire him.
Many, many decades later, my dad was working at a power plant which was being retired and planning to retire. On retiring, he went through the training office. On the switchbox, there was a sticker with an illustration of Mark Twain and a quote of his:
"Always do right.
This will gratify some people
and astonish the rest."
I'd always appreciated that sticker when visiting him at work. A certain synergy with the sentiment of the sticker and the story struck me. As it turns out, this was before the age of common digital cameras and he wasn't able to pull it off of the plate.
That writing was poor at best -- but I think it more or less has what I was intended to relate to you, sigje