the story room

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Angry at Injustice

This summer, I'm working for our park district's water park. I'm a front gate worker, which means I check people's bags for food and alcohol, work the cash register, and help patrons with any questions or problems they may have.

Tonight, while I was working one of the cash registers, a woman came up to our office. We let her in, and basically she told us, "I found some money laying on the ground, so if anyone comes to look for it, I have it. I'll come by in a little while to see if anyone reported some money missing."

Now, right away this didn't make sense to me, so I told the lady, "Ma'am, if someone's looking for their money, there's a good chance that we won't be able to find you in the park to track it down. We need to hold the money up here in front, so when the person who lost it is looking for it, it'll be right here." And I didn't expect this, but the woman became very upset with me. And with anger in her eyes, she stared at me, trying to intimidate me. It had to have been a solid 10 or 15 seconds where her eyes were locked on mine. I'm used to holding someone's gaze (in fact, I'm afraid I unintentially intimidate people with my own eyes sometimes!), so I just stared back, confident that I was doing the right thing.

One of the other workers in the office broke the silence by asking the lady how much money she had found. "I'd rather not say," she answered quickly. "It's not a lot, but I don't want to say." Hm...warning sign #2. For her to keep the amount undisclosed, it had to have been a significant amount of money.

She wasn't going to budge about giving us the money, so I told her that I was going to grab a manager so he could explain our policy to her. Our manager was only in the next room, but by the time he came into our office, she was gone. And, although she promised to return to see if anyone had reported the money missing, we closed the park without seeing her again.

Now, I'm not a person who's very easily angered; I'm pretty laid back about a lot of things. But even now, a couple hours home from work, that whole situation is still on my mind, and I'm not ok with it. The fact that the woman didn't cooperate with us isn't much of an issue to me...but what deeply bothers me is the fact that she went home with someone else's money. Somebody is going to miss the money they lost tonight, and this woman is going to spend money that she should have nothing to do's not hers.

And although it was only a small incident, my eyes were opened a bit more tonight to the whole issue of injustice in the world. And getting just a small taste of what's behind it made me understand all the more why God hates it. When people care more about the money on the ground than the people to whom it belongs, we know that there's something deeply wrong in our world...even inside ourselves.

I don't mean to rail on this woman. To tell you the truth, my heart goes out to her. If she was that hellbent on going home with a couple extra dollars, she must be dealing with a lot. And I don't know anything about her or her life...maybe she really did need it. Maybe...

And I know I need to be careful because I'm just as capable of committing injustice as this person was. And maybe I don't carry it out in such obvious ways all the time, but I'm guilty of selfishness and favoritism and other vehicles of injustice, too. I'm a broken woman as well.

But I do have a point in telling this story. I'm telling it because I realize how important it is to God that we watch out for one another...and that we love people more than we love things. I never thought before about how committing injustice leads us to so disrespect the God in whose image we're made. Not only do we show little love to the victims of our injustice, but we also forget our own identity as God's image-bearers...His representatives on earth. It makes us forget who we are.

May God have mercy on us.

And may He also give us the heart and strength to live justly, in the knowledge of our identity in Him.


Blogger Matt Cav said...

i understand where youre coming from erin.

a lot of times, at my work, we receive chargebacks. a chargeback is where a person uses a credit card to order something. they can, then, cancel the transaction with their credit card company, saying they never received something. a vendor can contest it, but almost never wins. so, a few times a month, we'll have a customer who does a chargeback, getting back every cent that they had given us, in addition to charging us a $10 fee (the cost for a chargeback on a vendor). it blows. usually, people are relentless, too, laughing in our faces about it. definitely injust.

12 July, 2005 10:20  
Blogger Erin said...

Yeah, that's no good, Matt. I'm sorry it happens to you guys at work so much.

13 July, 2005 13:41  

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