Integriy and Character

“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1 This verse means more to me than it used to. This verse is an understatement as I recently found out. This verse screams out the importance of integrity and character and a sound reputation. As I wrote in my last post, I had been working the closing shift a lot at work. At my Starbucks the common practice upon closing is to take the food that we did not sell home instead of throwing it away. I had enjoyed this part of the job as had the homeless people on the street that I gave the food to. In the rules and regulations book that was placed with my pile of paperwork upon starting the job there is a brief paragraph that states that the food is to be thrown out. That is problem number one. Problem number two is that there was another person at my store that was not my biggest fan. This person saw me eating some food from Starbucks that I had taken home the night before and told my manager that I was stealing the food from the store everyday on my break. So one day I walked into the store and I am accused of stealing, of lying to the store and making drinks wrong for anyone who is not an American, as well as being lazy. The complaints had come from people in my store that I thought I had made friends with and people that I worked with on a day to day basis. It felt like a knife in the throat and I was caught off guard to say the least. When asked to explain these accusations I told the truth. I said that I had taken the food from the night before and that I ate it the next day. My manager listened but thought it was necessary to do more of an investigation. So through out the rest of the day she talked with other employees and found out that everyone that closes the store takes food home with them. But since she had filed the complaint against me with her boss, I was the one that would have to go before the disciplinary panel and explain what had happened. I was suspended from work and sent home early. The next day when I appeared before the panel I was told by my manager that she was sorry that she had started this whole thing and that she knew that I wasn’t the only one involved. She didn’t think anything would happen and that this had gotten out of hand. But those words gave me an optimistic outlook for about ten minutes until the panel told me that I had been dismissed for not following procedures with the food. When I asked if there would be an investigation of all the rest of the employees in my store and the surrounding area, I was told that I had been caught and in essence was being made and example for others. So there I am, going from employed and making enough to survive in London, (the third most expensive city in the world to live, 10% more than NYC), to being unemployed and having only four weeks left to find a new job and work. That part doesn’t bother me terribly. But the part that does get me really riled up and very upset is that my integrity and character was in questioned. My reputation as a Christian, an American, an Ellwood and an Aggie was smeared because someone didn’t like me and wanted to cause me harm. Was I wrong for breaking the policy and procedures book, yes I was and I will admit that. But in the grand scheme of things it was not breaking the policies that resulted in my dismissal, it was an attack on my character. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to talk to each of the people that I worked with and explain myself and what happened, to apologize and redeem their memory of me, and that bothers me. I don’t want it to be said of me that I did anything but work as if all of my honor was on the line. We live in a crazy world, be as gentle as doves and as shrewd as serpents because not everyone wants to play by the rules of integrity and character.