Thursday, July 22, 2010

Integrity Tests

I don't travel on business as much as I used to.  I'm ok with that. But this week I had occasion to travel out west to a business conference.  I was reminded just how many integrity tests business travellers take every day.  There is little accountability on the road.  There are many opportunities to hedge, fudge, accomodate and compromise core values.  I will share a simple one that relates to money.

Two of my colleagues and I shared a taxi ride from our hotel to the airport.  Our driver was a pleasant woman who seemed to enjoy her job and chatted politely about the usual surface topics that accompany these kinds of routine shuttles. 

When we arrived at the airport, I paid the fare and tipped her generously (for the record, I am a pretty good tipper. Good service deserves good rewards.).  She thanked me and asked if I needed a receipt.  When I replied in the affirmative, she pulled out the company receipt pad a proceeded to tear off a copy for me.  She handed it to me and thanked me again for my generosity.  As I took the slip of paper, folded it and put it in my pocket, I noticed it was blank.  I smiled, somewhat saddened.

Our company will gladly reimburse me for the cab fare, but not the tip.  I have no problem with that.  A blank receipt provides me a perfect opportunity to put whatever number I choose on that pink piece of paper.  No one in my company will question the amount I write down.

Integrity tests.  We take them daily.  Who are we when no one is watching?  Some are big ones.  We've all heard, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  Some a little ones, like fill in the blank taxi receipts. 

For the record, in case you're wondering, I passed.  This time.  But each new day has fresh challenges.  I tremble at the prospect of facing the constant barage of attacks upon my character.  I am flesh and flesh is so frail.  I try and follow two simple rules, that are framed by questions; 1.  Would I be embarrassed if my wife or Jesus walked in on me right now?  and 2. What would I do in this situation if my wife or Jesus was standing beside me?  Since both are always with me, one in my heart by a commitment we made before God and witnesses, and one quite literally omnipresent, it's hard to get away with much.  :-)

Have a great day.  Good luck with your test.