Saturday, August 4, 2007

Integrity Illustrated

A New York City cab driver provided a ride to a well-off business woman. At the end of the ride the woman paid her fare and gave the driver a 30¢ tip. It would have been easy for the cab driver to have felt slighted. Who gives a 30¢ tip? What can you do with 30¢?

Later that day, the cab driver discovered that the lady had left a bag in his trunk. The bag had over 30 diamond rings in it. Collectively, the contents of the bag were worth thousands of dollars.

What did the cab driver do? It would have been very easy for him to take the bag and claim the contents. He could have been spiteful to the woman who had dismissed him with a 30¢ tip, taken the diamonds, and pretended as if nothing had happened.

Is this what the cab driver did? No. He spent the next few hours locating the lady so he could return her property to her. He finally found her, and she was relieved to have her bag returned. Her expression of gratitude to the man who went the extra mile to return her property was rather modest: she gave the man a $100 gift certificate to the jewelry store she owned. Nothing more.

The cab driver, who had lost countless fares as he searched for the lady, was not bitter. He simply took the gift certificate, put it into his pocket, thanked the lady, and went about his business. The gift certificate was absolutely useless to him—everything in the woman’s store was priced much higher than $100, and he would be out a lot of his own money to redeem it. So, in reality, the 30¢ tip was all he had to show for a great act of kindness. But, he did have his pride and the comfort of knowing that despite the response of the lady he had done the right thing.

How does one define “integrity”? Look no further than this NYC cab driver.