I walked the long way back from the car, now hot and sweaty, and the ink on my arm had run so much you couldn’t see what it said. I looked at the employee checking people through and said, “Please let me back in.” The security guard laughed, but he stopped when the beeper went off.
“Do you have anything metal on you?” he asked. “Maybe your keys?”
I handed him my keys, then went through the scanner again. And it went off again. I could feel my already-sweaty palms begin to sweat even more.
“It’s probably just not working right,” said the employee. He was going to let me through.
“Anything else?” the guard asked. I gave him my watch and went through again. It beeped again.
“It’s just not working right,” the employee said again. I liked him.
But the guard said, “Anything else?” I gave him the two rings I was wearing. And it beeped again.
The guard looked at me funny. “Do you have anything else on you that’s metal?” My hand moved towards my pocket, and I pulled out…two packages of tuna.
Now, two packages of tuna aren’t much of a threat to anyone, unless you’re throwing them in frustration. But I wasn’t throwing them. I was SO embarrassed, all I could do was turn around, drop them in the nearest garbage can, and move quickly through the detector — again. No beep.
“No outside food allowed,” reminded the guard in a pleasant voice. I gave him a little smile, then scooted away as quickly as I could. I knew my face had to be bright red. It sure felt like all the blood had rushed to it.
As I made my way back to the rest of the group, all I could think of was my sister’s words, “I’m a rule-follower.” My, she could really rub it in if she wanted to! And though I’m usually a rule-follower, to save some money I tried to break the rule…and I was caught.
I debated for a while if I should share the story with anyone, particularly my children. But I did, as it was a good lesson for them too.
There are a lot of rules that are easy to “bend”. Driving a little faster than the speed limit, smuggling snacks into a movie theater, and copying songs from someone else’s CD are all “small” infractions that shouldn’t seem to matter. But they do. They are a reflection of character and integrity, two things we want to hang on to.
It was also a good lesson in kindness, as my sister never did gloat. 🙂
Photo by sideshowmom