A question of what's right

image by aturkas

My water bill came the other day and it was $41.41. I looked at it knowing that since it is a quarterly bill, it should have been $200+. So I called the water department and said, “I bet you don’t get this often, but I think my bill is too small.” After she got done laughing and we covered the fact that the house was not empty, we had 4 people and 1 dog showering, 50+ loads of laundry a month, and a least a load a day in the dishwasher, she reviewed the options. The easiest solution was to send a service person over on Monday to replace the meter.

Now I could have just paid the lower bill and said nothing but it would have bothered me. I expect honorable actions and honesty out of everyone I work with, whether it is services provided, client interaction, or family and friends. I also believe in setting an example.

I got some static from family members and friends when I told them about the bill and what I did but I am glad I did. It meant extra work for me since I had to clean out a storage area to reach the access panel so the service person could replace the meter. I did it though. I now have a new meter and will get a revised bill from the water department.

Is honesty always the best policy?

In my world, yes. I really don’t care if people give me static. If you give me too much change, I give it back. If you bill me too little, I tell you (of course, I will also tell you if you bill me too much.) A friend told me that in another state she knows people that were overbilled by hundreds of dollars and they didn’t get a refund. I said that first of all, that wasn’t here and second of all, I know who to call at almost any local place to get help.

Having a healthy network of people to intercede when things go wrong is always good but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the right thing all the time. For me, conviction, honesty, and ethics are important.

What do you think? And does it affect your reputation if you choose to do the wrong thing?

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  1. Barb Poole on December 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I love this, Julie! In an age where we hear a lot about changing scruples, etiquette and manners, this digs deeper. It’s the essence of being able to sleep soundly at night. Of having our name linked to our good reputation. Of people wanting to associate with us because we have that sense of right … have that ethics that partially defines who we are.

    I love the story about the 1932 Olympic champion golfer Babe Zaharias. She once penalized herself two strokes when she realized she accidentally played the wrong ball. Her friend chided her. “Why did you do it? No one saw you. No one would have known the difference.” Babe answered, “I would have known.”

    • Julie Walraven on December 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Exactly, Barb! And that is why I wrote it. I know when things are not right and they bother me.

  2. Andrew Plath on December 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    In my house, the water meter itself is fairly accessible. Plus, there is a monitoring device on the outside of the house.

    My water usage has gone down. That’s not just because it is just me living here. As one plumber told me, “your house has ‘old house disease'”.

    • Julie Walraven on December 5, 2011 at 8:38 pm

      The actual meter is what broke, Andy. The outside one apparently was fine. Hopefully you will get over old house disease soon… don’t you have some plumbing planned?

  3. Jason Alba on December 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I look back at the last year and think about the times I made the right, good decision. Sometimes it was a no-brainer, even though it cost me money. Other times I knew I could get away with not mentioning it at all, and the company probably really wouldn’t care – but I knew if I made the right decision, I’d be better for it. Thanks for sharing – here’s my favorite line:

    “In my world, yes. I really don’t care if people give me static.” It’s not about what others say is right, or what statistics tell you – it’s about what your heart or head says is right.

    • Julie Walraven on December 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks, Jason. I find so many people telling me that ethics don’t matter, it is refreshing to have friends who do share my thoughts. Blessings on your latest trip to Minneapolis! Hope your sessions overflow!

  4. Nancy Branton on December 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    You remind me a bit of myself 🙂

    • Julie Walraven on December 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Then we would have a great time if we are ever in the same place. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!

  5. Vernon on December 8, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Hi Julie, I really love your post because it is packed with a good information and lots of ideas to be gain be just reading your article. In our part, here in the Philippines we pay less in the water bill its because it is abundant here in our place. Good for us that we don’t pay as much like that.

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