Worth is Not Measured in Dollars or IQ

April 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm 4 comments

By Lauren Kennedy   – http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

I frequently shop at Krogers. Their plastic shopping bags are rather small and extremely thin and weak.  If you put three cans in one bag and pick it up too quickly, they will bust out the bottom of the bag.  Any item that has square corners, quickly tears a gash in the bag. And my kids are anything but careful when they bring in the groceries from the car.

Time and again, I have said to the baggers, “Please do not make the bags full or heavy.” But my request always seems to fall on deaf ears. After a glass jar of applesauce fell through the bottom of the bag and smashed all over my driveway, I decided to bag my own groceries.

The baggers always look a bit confused when I tell them that I will bag my own groceries,  but at least I get all my items in the house in one piece.

The other day, I was once again standing in  line at Kroger with a cart full of groceries.   I had spent two hours in the doctors office to get treated for asthmatic bronchitis and another hour waiting for my prescriptions to be filled. By the time it was my turn to check out, I just wanted to get back home and lay down.

So when one of the baggers came to help me unload my cart, I was relieved to have some assistance.  Instead of telling him that I would bag them myself, I just ask him not to pack the bags full or heavy, expecting the request to once again be ignored.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Finally, I wheeled out the cart load of groceries with my last bit of energy.  As I put them in the car, I realized he had actually complied with my request, and he had also packed cold food with cold food, and non food with non food, something that I had completely given up on ever getting done.

A job well done deserves acknowledgement. So I thought I would go back into the store and give him a tip. I though that  tipping might be against their policy. So I asked the manage if I could tip my bagger because he had done a wonderful job. She said, “Oh, you mean David? Isn’t he sweet?”

David happened to be one of their employees that is mentally challenged. (I believe that is the proper term.)

I replied, “Well, yes he is sweet, but I want to tip him because he is the only bagger in two years that has ever packed my bags the way I had asked for it to be done.”

But no,  tipping is not allowed. She said that a compliment would mean just as much as a tip to him. Hmmm. Even if someone is sweet, he can’t buy anything with compliments.

Since I could not tip him, I found him and paid him a compliment instead.  He actually hugged me.

What do You Value?

As I trudged back to the car, feeling a bit lighter,  in spite of the  congestion and fatigue from the bronchitis, I reflected on our priorities and values as a society.

We reward intelligence, but it  is conscientiousness and thoughtfulness that demonstrate  character.  We idealize the wealthy, expressing  disbelief that a violent crime could occur in their high class neighborhoods, and if so, the perpetrator must have been an outsider. We respect  the successful executives, while we penalize  the corporate whistle blower who risked his career for having the courage and integrity of his convictions. We unquestionably give credence, our trust and our loyalty  to people with power and prestige.  To a person that is compassionate and honest, we  give platitudes, isn’t that nice, isn’t he sweet, but they remain insignificant for us unless they also have status.

Given our priorities, we can hardly blame wall street for their actions.  A as a society, our values, the qualities we most respect and desire, are wealth rather than honesty, success rather than integrity , and power and prestige over fairness and compassion.

But it was David,  not those wealthy, successful and powerful individuals, who created a bit of sunshine in a rather long and trying day. David, rather than dismissing my request, as the more intelligent individuals had done, actually listened.  In addition, he demonstrated superb reasoning and conscientiousness when he bagged the cold foods together, non food items together, and produce together. Unlike the other baggers, he realized that putting fresh fruit under a can of soup, was not a good idea.

Yes, he was sweet, but he was also capable, caring, conscientiousness and valuable.  Character, integrity and value are independent of wealth, status or power.

Each of us is important, no matter our level of intelligence, status or wealth.  We each  can touch others’ lives in our own unique way. We can choose to remain self involved. Or we can choose to be aware and present to each moment and to the people that show up in it. We can choose to cast our judgments, rationalization, and fears  aside, and respond from the urgings of our heart and spirit.  You can never know when that one caring word, act or gesture may be the motivation that changes the course of someone’s life. Or puts a ray of hope in their day.

I may still slip David a tip.


Entry filed under: Piority, Motive and Intention. Tags: , , , , , .

The Paradoxical Commandments Criminalizing Morality

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pinnythewu  |  May 4, 2009 at 3:53 am

    What a wonderful story. Thank you very much for sharing. Having worked in the service industry, and quite a few supermarkets, I can understand your frustration. Many workers get so sick of not receiving gratitude, that they give up and turn into unhelpful, uncaring, dispondant machines behind a counter. I always prided myself on my customer service because of one man, Robbie. Robbie was a “trolley boy” at my first job. He was the guy who goes around the supermarket parking lot collecting carts that are left laying around. He was 45 years old and was badly mentally challenged, really he was more like a 5 year old. While the other trolley boys dawdled around, wasting time and every now and then collecting a cart, Robbie would go out of his way to help you. He got to know all of the regulars names, and would help you unload your shopping into your car before releaving you of your empty cart. I was 16 and had just left school, but it stuck me that out of all the 500 or so people that worked there, Robbie was the only one who wouldn’t let a bad day affect his customer care. Through my working life there on, when I felt like I didn’t care anymore and I was sick of customers, I thought of Robbie. Oh, sorry about the long comment!!

    • 2. laurenpkennedy  |  May 5, 2009 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Pinnythewu,

      Thank you for your comment. Your ability to recognize and implement a valuable lesson from another individual, rather than to discount it because of the messenger, demonstrates personal integrity, open mindedness and clarity of perception.

      So often, we put image above conscientiousness, and ability above intentions, a mindset that may achiever power and control, but not empowerment, that may acquire material wealth, but not inner abundance, that may gain fame and influence but not inner peace and personal fulfillment.

      Thank you for being an example of humanity at its best.

      To Your Authentic Life,


  • 3. david morochnick  |  June 30, 2009 at 12:53 am

    I greatly appreciated your post and agree with its sentiment. However, I am afraid we live in a culture of fear and mistrust in which prohibitions against ‘doing the right thing’ are built into a complex and often subtle fabric of daily interpersonal relations in which survival is determined by ones willingness to overlook disparity, injustice, prejudice, incompitence and hazards.

    Early on in my public school teaching career, I was advised by a colleague to ‘look the other way’ if ever I witnessed student or teacher misconduct. Ignoring that advice, I eventually lost my job and had my career destroyed.

    Since then I have become depressed and dishearted to the point of utter paralyzation and stagnation. I know I did the ‘right’ thing, but in the process I lost both my means and will to live. My integrity as an educator and my insistance on preserving the safety and well-being of my students has driven me to utter despair and professional isolation.

    • 4. laurenpkennedy  |  June 30, 2009 at 7:44 pm

      Hi David,

      I do completely understand you despair. I, too, have experienced unpleasant consequences for standing up for my principles, for not turning my head at misconduct, for speaking my truth instead of co-signing the popular view, the boss’s plan, or having concern about situations. policies, etc. that “is just the way things are.”

      I learned early on that the notion, “If you do the right thing, good things happen to you,” was a lie. Or perhaps, “the right thing” really meant what everyone expects you to do.

      My own disillusionment and my lack of confidence that I could prevail, were partly the triggers that sent me into a long period of addiction. Seventeen years ago, I finally crawled out of the self created hell on earth I had created. I had to realize that I would get no brownie points from society for speaking my truth and adhering to principles. Even people who may be sympathetic to the concepts, said that by standing up for them, I was being unrealistic, irresponsible, and asking for trouble.

      Perhaps as individuals, our actions seem to have little affect on making changes. However, one individual, plus another and another, can be the impetus for change. Here is a quote that gives me hope went I am feeling like the effort is not making any difference.

      “Never think that a group of individuals working together are unable to change the world. In fact, that’s the only thing that ever has.”

      I know the agony of paralyzing immobility, the indecision and self doubt about how to do the right thing and still survive in society. I don’t have all the answers. But I do have a vision and a plan to utilize my talents, experience, knowledge and hope, in spite of chronic health issues that compromise my physical abilities and energy. Even so, I have encountered obstacles and some areas that I must gain knowledge and skills to move things along more quickly.

      If we give up, nothing changes. If we give up, we are not being who we were meant to be. And that is terribly painful. It is our effort and intent that is important. Not how many battles we win or loose. I don’t want to sound like I am lecturing you. You have already done more than most. But there are so few people willing to have the courage of their convictions. You are one of those precious few. They can take our jobs, our plans for the future, our confidence and sometimes even our hope. But don’t let them silence your nature, your authentic self, your spirit, your Being.

      If we continue to express who we are and what we believe, we may not change the world, but we may, even unknowingly change the life of one person. Or plant the seed of a better way to live in another. We don’t always see the fruits of our efforts.

      I truly feel your desperation. In the past few years, due to deteriorating health, obstacles to my purpose or vision, and self doubts, I have felt the same despair. At times, I may be willing to change my direction or my route, but I can not give up on my reason for Being, however insignificant it may seem. If I betray who I am, and comply to their expectations, if I avoid the choice by addiction, dropping out, or becoming a hermit, all of which I have tried in the past, then I really have no reason to live.

      Your voice needs to be heard and your Being needs to express itself. It is not necessary to take on the world. Just being in it and being who we are can begin a ripple effect. Please don’t let them snuff out another of the few people that have the courage and the wisdom to speak the truth in spite of their power. They have already taken everything else. Do not let them imprison your spirit, your truth, your Being. Then they not only win the battle, but perhaps also maintain the status quo for decades to come.

      If you are interested in writing a short article about your experience in living with integrity, commitment, and courage, and the price that you paid for it, I would be happy to post it on my blog. I have always posted only my own work on my blog and website, but I think you have an important message. So I would be willing to make an exception so you can share your experience with others.

      If you need to talk, or just would like some support, please contact me, no obligation.

      Should you have the time or interest in learning about my vision, in brain storming some ideas, possibly contributing moral support or knowledge, or if you simply want to talk to another idealistic dreamer, please contact me. Use this email: freedom@cinci.rr.com, or this phone number:


      I wish I had an answer to take away your despair. I can only offer an understanding ear, support, and perhaps a way to take a first step out of the chains of immobilization that have you in their grasp.

      To Your Authentic Life,

      Lauren Kennedy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Our life is an evolving creation, shaped by our choices, colored by our desires, and lightened or darkened by our intentions.
April 2009
« Mar   Jun »

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Recent Posts

Home, Coaching Service, About

%d bloggers like this: