Last night I walked into a Chipotle restaurant to order a chicken burrito with lettuce, onions, and cheese. I wasnâ€™t hungry enough to eat my customary two burritos (I work out a lot), but a single burrito just wasnâ€™t going to get the job done. So, I ordered a double portion of chicken and was told it would be about $2.00 extra. No problem, I responded. After the final member of the assembly team completed and wrapped the burrito, he wrote a â€œCâ€ (for â€œchickenâ€) on the tin foil so the cashier would know what I had ordered.
The cashier rang me up and the meal came to slightly more than $6. That amount seemed small, and I realized he charged me for only a single burrito. I told him that I ordered double chicken, and he smiled and said my new total was approximately $9.
I shared this story with my students the next day. Kids love hearing their teachers share personal stories. In my opinion, storytelling is one of the most powerful teaching strategies we have in our repertoire, especially when it comes to imparting lessons about character, which was my goal with this story. Telling stories humanizes us and reminds kids that we are real people who visit the same places and have many of the same experiences that they do.
I shared with my students that this story really isnâ€™t about money; itâ€™s about honesty. I had a split second to make a decision, and I chose to do the right thing and correct the cashier who was about to charge me less money than I should have been charged. I could have said nothing, walked away, and nobody would have ever known the difference. And thatâ€™s the main point. Nobody else would have known, but I would have known. Students often hear that character and integrity are about what you do when nobody is watching. Nobody was watching me last night, and I emphasized to everyone that demonstrating honesty was more important to me than having an extra $2 in my pocket.
It is the decisions we make in life that ultimately determine our character. I didnâ€™t want to look back on this incident and wish I had acted otherwise. I wanted to do what I felt was right and act in a way that was consistent with my beliefs.
The other point I tried to emphasize with my kids is that decisions such as these shouldnâ€™t be a big deal. I didnâ€™t try to make myself out to be some big hero because Iâ€™m not. I wasnâ€™t seeking to make this a dramatic tale of good vs. evil. It was just a quick reminder that we all face choices in our lives every day and a tiny bit of encouragement to make the right decision, even when nobody is watching.