I’d like to hear your story

Last week I wrote about the story of the “coin on the copier.” In a “comment,” Steven Jackson, one of my students, shared a similar story. It’s too good not to call your attention to it. And I do so with this invitation: What’s YOUR coin on the copier story? I’m sure others would love reading such stories, as I know I would. Here’s Steven’s:

Thank you Dan for your story. I have one similar to that. I went to a store(I think it was Target, but I don’t remember) and upon check out the clerk gave me about $60 additional in change. I was with a younger cousin of mine and he thought I should keep it. My cousin Hakim said to me, “That’s good luck. You should just keep it. No one will know. That’s their fault.” I told him, “I’m going to return it because it doesn’t belong to me and even though they may never know, I will.”

My inner selves were speaking to me and I was thinking about Karma. I’ve always earned money since I was pre-teen so I’ve never had that mentality to take or receive something I haven’t earned. I took the money back into Target and the cashier looked shocked. She was a small Filipino lady who seemed as though English was her second language. She hugged me and started crying. She said that she had three kids and was going through a stressful time in life that was causing her to forget and mess up. Her managers had threatened to fire her if her register came up short one more time. The woman cried from joy and I’ll never forget that. She told me she would have lost her job and been homeless had I not came back. That day I left the Dime on the copier. My cousin Hakim references that event a lot. He is reminded that we should Lead with integrity because he saw me Model The Way. I don’t know what happened to the cashier but I hope that my actions helped give her a second chance to work through her problems. It gave me a valuable lesson on how our actions not only alter life for ourselves, but for others. [emphasis added]

Again, I’d love for you to share your story here, but if not here, might there be a “Hakim” in your life who might really benefit from your story of a coin on the copier?

Lead with your best self!


  • I enjoyed the article. Whether in business or not, we can make a difference in life through kindness and care. All it takes is awareness and conscience. You plant the seed and it grows good.

  • I withdrew $600 from the bank to give Christmas presents to the aides at a nursing home where my mother was residing. It was (she recently died) a very sad story, her husband had put her there and let the nursing home give her drugs she did not want, when she had made clear her wishes before dementia set in. But to the coin in the copier story-when I checked my account the money was not taken out. I waited a week and still the same. I thought for a minute-“Well the bank’s big and who cares and I did use the money for good”, but then thought the teller who gave me he money would likely have a discrepancy and could have to pay the difference or worse yet lose her job. I went back to the bank and funny-they thought I was mistaken! but they did some research and finally deducted the amount. I told my twenty something children-who I must admit had to think about it-but I think decided they would not keep money they didn’t earn or belonged to them. Always best to be honest.! Love and always learn from your columns!

    • Karen,
      How agonizing that the bank thought you were wrong. For me, that would intensify the feeling, “darn, if nobody felt the consequence, and the bank COULD just absorb it….” A couple times I have argued to give money back only to find out that I was actually wrong, which turned out kind of funny.
      Your story is pretty amazing. If there is Karma/Heaven, I’m pretty sure you got triple points (at least) for this one!
      Savor the truth and goodness!!!

  • Thanks for sharing interesting story. I think if everyone need to matin the integrity, if they can , our country will develop soon. So that, leader need to teach the people how to be honesty and it is very useful for life and success.

  • I worked for our family’s funeral home for about twenty years full time and some years before that off and on. Now and then people still ask me for assistance with questions about funerals and funeral planning. Two have offered to pay me, but I turned both down. It does not seem right to take money for what we did for free at our funeral home. One person insisted one paying, so I asked them to make a donation to the humane society instead, which they accepted as an alternative to paying me.

    Many people have fears, or skepticism about funeral homes, so that may be why they would ask a former employee of a closed funeral home. My experience is that most funeral homes are quite honest, but still people have concerns.

    A few times I have told people that they can solve their problems with a funeral home by telling the funeral director at the funeral home they are using, instead of keeping it in anger to themselves. Most funeral directors will correct or adjust many things, if a family brings it up to him or her. So far, each person I have told to do this, has gotten good responses from the various funeral homes.

  • Thank you for this story and I too as I am sure many of us have experienced a similar situation. I was at Meijer and the cashier was busy talking and she gave me change back for a $100.00 which would have been 45.00 instead of the needed $5.00. It never occurred to me to keep the money because I can remember when I too in the early 70s worked at Meijer. Meijer was my first job as I held during college years and I can remember the counting down of the drawer and having to account for overages and shortage. I don’t know how they do it now but I am certain there is a bit of accountability still in these types of jobs.

    The cashier continued to talk about her issues for the day and when she was done I stood there and asked her why did she give me so much money and she said ohh, I must have input the wrong amount. I gave her back the monies and told her to have a wonderfully blessed day. Too many times we find young people coming to work and not able to leave their personal problems at the door and they carry around so much baggage. It is my hope that my act gave her food for thought. We much at all times continue to be leaders in all aspects rather it’s on our own job, in our homes or in the public.

    We never know when someone may get touched or look back in retrospect of our actions.

    • Mary,
      How cool that you took that minute to let her sense what had happened.
      Your story makes me think again:
      What’s the value of peace of mind? Hitting the pillow without nagging weights of conscience?

  • Two years ago our church began a “Backpack Buddy” ministry where we provide food on the week-ends for children struggling with food insecurity. The program was received with open arms by one of the elementary schools in our community but the other chose not to participate. Each year we approached the administration on that second campus and sought permission to distribute the bags. For the past two years we were rejected. This year the administration agreed to allow us to distribute the food on a “trial basis”. I work as a substitute teacher and normally only work at the campus where we had previously distributed the bags of food. This year I started accepting jobs at the other campus. I was standing with the class in the hall waiting for our turn to enter the gym for P.E. when one of the girls in the class I was subbing for saw my green silicone bracelet that says “Backpack Buddy” We had recently started selling the bracelets as a fund raiser to help cover the cost of the food products. When the young girl saw my bracelet and read it she reached her arms around me and gave me a big hug and said “I am a Backpack Buddy”. We started during the 2013 school year by serving 50 children. This week we will distribute bags to 96 elementary children in Pre-K thru 4th grade. We are not funded by our church but we operate thru the generous gifts of members of our church and community. . Individuals and groups donate money and food products. We shop the “sales” and use coupons. We have received a couple of corporate donations and three significant grants. Because our numbers keep increasing we are just have started to participate in fund raising activities and even those efforts have been phenomenal It is truly amazing the work God is doing in our community to make it possible for us to provide this most needed service for His children.

  • Dan, may I use you and your bride for mine? This was alittle my fault, the time at AJ’s, when I tried to pay for “A Governor’s Story. The man told me, pointing to where the two of you were going to be sitting. He said to me, “pay them when they come in, and tell them you brung In can food to get a discount”. So I put the money in my pocket and I forgot all about it. I realized at some point later when I put my hand in my pocket, oops. Later, the gov said don’t worry about It, but I felt so bad, and like a thief and I still do.

  • One time at Burger King when I gave my son a small cup and told him he can go and get what pop he wanted and asked him what he wanted to eat. He said cheeseburger and fries. I gave him three dollars for he can go to the counter himself to make him feel grown, he likes that. I watched my 8 year old and as he came walking back toward the table I’m looking at the tray of food in wonder. He had a kids’ meal, a large drink, and dessert. On top of that there were change on the tray. I asked Noah, where did you get the food? He said the man behind the counter gave it to him. I said, but how, I gave you three dollars. I got out of him what happened. The employee asked Noah, what he wanted and he told him; a kids’ meal, with cheeseburger, fries, toy, dessert, and drink. I ask, but how did you pay for it? Noah said the man behind the counter took money out of his pocket and put It in the register and then put the change on the food tray. I looked at the receipt and gave Noah money and told him to go give It to the man behind the counter that took the money out of his pocket and thank him.

  • My favorite is not about money but time. Waiting to check out around Christmas, there was a child ahead of me, who was obviously buying a present and carefully counting out the money in change to pay for it. The cashier looked at me apologetically as it took a little longer than a “normal” transaction, I don’t remember how busy or rushed I was, but in that situation, I felt like having all the time necessary, having been there as a child and parent. No problem.

    I think we feel better inside of ourselves when we are honest, and that is worth more than whatever the mistake in our favor might be.

  • I thought of a better story. Former mayor of Alpena, William D. Gilmet, now deceased, ran for county commissioner after several times as mayor. He lost by a few votes and asked for a recount. The recount determined that he had still lost. He then went to the County Clerk’s office and asked how much the recount had cost the county. He made a donation to the county that amount of money.

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