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Integrity

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Character counts. But what does it matter when no one can see your actions? Your teacher walks out of the room during the most excruciatingly hard test. Your notes are but inches away from your jittery fingertips. "It's just one minuscule question I need to know!" your mind tempts. You know what's right and what's wrong, what do you do?


Well about 7 years ago, I was in a situation vaguely similar. It was 2nd grade. Mrs. Lucas was gone and replaced by a lighthearted pleasurable teacher. This pedagogue had several tricks up her sleeve in getting us little rascals to behave. One of them was tickets. Tickets? Yes, tickets that could be exchanged for the most desired, valuable, precious gems known to mankind: candy.


All throughout the day, children in my class persisted in trying to gain the teacher's attention so she'd notice them performing a good deed, because doing a good deed meant receiving tickets, which meant receiving candy. Mmmmm candy. But it was really strenuous to get a ticket. Almost as hard as climbing Mount Everest with no arms or legs while it's raining cats and dogs. Also, to add more laboriousness to this great feat, it cost not only one ticket, but three in order to be rewarded with a single piece of candy.


So there I was, an eager, sweet toothed, 8 year old munchkin sitting in my smooth wooden desk. The substitute was already rewarding children with sweet, sweet candy. All except me. Kids were lining up in droves to receive their precious reward. Mere seconds seemed like years. As I was on pins and needles gaping in awe, my mouth filled with drool just at the sight of it. My stomach ached for something saccharine. I wanted candy, and would stop at nothing to get it.


Through all the hustle and bustle of rug rats jumping for joy to claim their prize, I heard the soft sounds of the clock ticking. Tick! Tick! Tick! It revealed that school would be over in approximately 15 minutes. I only had two tickets. Only two. Only two. "All I need is one more ticket. Just one eensy weensy ticket!" I yearningly said in my mind, as if wishing would make my dream come true. All hope was lost, when suddenly, SHABOOM! I looked up towards the back table near the classroom sink, and saw my fantasy in reality. A deep red rectangle laying on the tile floor bearing the words "admit one" had caught my eye. The third ticket I needed. "Yes!" I shouted as I bore a grin wider than the Mississippi river. Now I could be blessed with some delicious confectionery!


But wait. It wasn't my ticket. What if another little boy or girl had lost their ticket, and they truly had earned it by helping others? They would be very upset to have worked so hard for nothing. What should I do? Many options raced through my mind. I could just sneak over across the room and snatch it up for myself and then exchange it for a piece of deliciousness. Or pick it up and give it to the substitute teacher because it wasn't mine to take. Decisions, decisions, decisions…


I went home that day with a lollipop in my mouth and satisfaction in my belly. My mom had always taught me to choose the right, and that's what I did. I decided to pick up the ticket and hand it to the teacher because it wasn't mine. "Thank you for your honesty, Honore." she said with a grin and a twinkle in her eye. Because of my integrity, she allowed me to keep the beautiful maroon quadrilateral that I then exchanged for a glossy tootsie pop. Doing what's right had never tasted so sweet.





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