2012-08-16 / Lifestyles

Good for the soul

Lois A. Corcoran

As I waxed on about the importance of integrity, it occurred to me that I preached to the choir. My son possesses far more of that virtue than his parents.

Still, I continued to lecture and as I did, a long suppressed memory invaded my thoughts.

Two decades ago, I worked as a secretary for a firm that boasted modern, state-of-the-art equipment. My favorite, hands-down, was a super dooper, top-of-the-line photocopier. It reduced, enlarged, collated and, I’m fairly certain, washed dishes as well.

While it’s primary function was to duplicate our clients’ important documents, it also served as a source of entertainment for partners and crew alike.

This was years before Photoshop, and when the spirit moved us, we’d literally “cut and paste” to make copies of co-workers’ faces with, say, Elvis’s body. Employees could also reproduce more boring fare like the occasional recipe, etc.

It happened that I worked on a personal project during that era and felt a deep need to duplicate it. So I spent my lunch breaks in front of that mammoth machine. And by the time I finished, I’d copied a few hundred pages.

It was wrong and I knew it but did it anyway, all the while peering around to avoid being discovered.

When the memory of that deed surfaced periodically over the years, I managed to sweep it under the rug. That is, until the aforementioned integrity discussion. Suddenly, it reared its ugly head and refused to be dismissed.

My son listened attentively as I relayed my indiscretion.

“...And I’ve felt guilty ever since,” I told him. “Why, I’ve got half a mind to apologize and give them back their paper.”

“Why don’t you?” he said.

My mind reeled as the question hung in the air. Are you nuts?, I thought. You want me to humble myself in front of my former employer?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. So I bought a ream of paper – double what I swiped, but fair considering accrued interest – and made my way to town.

I finally worked up my courage after all these years, only to find the office nearly empty, the Powers That-Be gone. So I left my peace offering and e-mailed my confession.

And made peace with my long lost integrity.

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