The material and the spiritual
Too often we reflect on the material rather then the spiritual meaning of the Christmas season. One season I was forcefully reminded that character is molded by the actions we take when only the angels are looking over our shoulder.
Astronomy continues to be my wickedly expensive passion. A few years ago, a 21st century telescope with a specialized optical configuration designed for astrophotography, came onto the market. Let's just say you could buy a nice used car for the same amount of money. I saved my coffee and lunch money, while putting off other purchases for many months, so I could afford this telescope and the myriad of adapters and accessories needed to make it an integrated optical system. I finally ordered the scope and charged it to a credit card, so as to also score some airline miles. The scope arrived on a Tuesday afternoon packed in a sturdy wooden crate. On Wednesday I received a second identical crate, but no packing slip taped to the exterior. I hadn't signed for either delivery. Curious, I went online and checked my credit card bill. There was just the single charge.
Now, if it were just a few hundred dollars this would be an easy choice. But this was considerably more money then I ever expected to...fall.... into. I knew, of course, what the right choice was, I knew some stock person might get fired for the missing inventory, I understood the entire dilemma - except this time it was a whole lot of money.
It took me twelve days to pick up the phone and tell the company what happened. The seller emailed me a prepaid Fed Ex label, arranged for a pick-up, and the second scope went back where it belonged. The seller admitted that the company would have never caught the error.
I have thought hard about why it took so long to actually do the right thing. One, it was a telescope, not a watch or an exhaust manifold or some other "guy toy." Silly but true. Two, I was simultaneously curious and guilt stricken, and wanted to wait and see if the seller would call. Finally, I'm just a guy with the flaws that we all attempt to mask and rationalize every day.
The right decision was a lot harder than I expected.