Good for the soul
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.