Just tell them you forgot your keys
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
We were driving from downtown Toronto to some suburb I'd never seen before.
I had come recently from France, and here I was, about to start my first job in Canada - selling encyclopedias.
I enjoyed the week-long training, but some statements in the sales presentation we learned made me feel uneasy. Like the opening one: "We are not here to sell anything, just to conduct a survey." Followed by: "However, as a reward for your help, we can sell you the encyclopedia at a very discounted price." I remember asking myself if the survey was just a trick to introduce and sell the encyclopedia. But I had been too shy to ask.
After several sharp turns, the car came to a stop. As we stepped out, the supervisor told me: "You see these apartment buildings? You go in, ring the doorbells, and do your presentation. By the way, don't you worry if there is a 'no peddling' sign in the lobby; just ignore it. And if the door to the building is closed, ring any apartment and tell the person that you have forgotten your keys. They'll let you in. If the building superintendent comes by, just pretend you are going to an apartment." He added: "It's 9 o'clock. I'll come back and pick you up at 1 p.m." Then, he left.
Suddenly, everything became clear. There was obviously a basic lack of honesty with the whole approach of this particular company. Yes, I'd been quite naive. I let myself be impressed by their fancy offices and the professional tone of the training.
For the next four hours, I sat on a bench in the parking lot, waiting for the supervisor to come back. Though it was the only job I could find, and I urgently needed the money, it was very obvious to me that I could not work for that company. Honesty was not negotiable. I knew there could never be a reason for disregarding honesty.
As I sat on that bench, instead of feeling sorry that I had wasted one week training for a job I didn't want, and instead of worrying about my future, I felt a deep peace. My conviction that I could stand by what I knew was ethical and good, was to me a sign of God's care. I felt guided and safe.
Within one week I found another job, one that was based on ethics in business. When asked during the interview why they should hire me, I spoke of the value I placed on ethics, and related the situation I had gone through the week before. I was hired on the spot.
Why honesty? Simply because it is siding with God. It is trusting the goodness of His creation. Stealing, lying, cheating, amount to fear that the good we are yearning for might pass us by. A misunderstanding of true substance. By taking matters into our own hands and disregarding justice and ethics, we work from the standpoint of lack and inequality, and we lose sight of God's creation - its wholeness and permanence.
Honesty frees us. It helps us to see that what we truly need is spiritual. It's abundant. It never restricts us. The peace, the joy, the health, the true substance we need is ours, now. Knowing that these are always available from God, we can trust Him, and wait patiently for His plan to appear to us.
There is a joy in approaching life from a position of strength. When our personal ambitions and strategies are subdued, and we are willing to follow God's direction, we become receptive to a higher harmony. One that does not fluctuate, but that is impartial and universal. One that depends on God's own nature, on His grace and infinite goodness. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, spoke of the life that honesty reveals: "Justice, honesty, cannot be abjured; their vitality involves Life, - calm, irresistible, eternal" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 139).
This is our life. Now.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor