Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 — A photo posted on the Internet last week showed a jumble of grocery carts, heaped with product abandoned in the checkout lines of a Walmart in northern Louisiana. The people who filled the carts with groceries had walked out of the store when management announced the electronic benefit cards (EBT) shoppers were using now registered appropriate spending limits.
A run on the grocery section of two Walmart stores was prompted when food stamp recipients learned their EBT cards had no credit limits due to a computer glitch. According to police who responded to a call made by Walmart managers, some shoppers had eight to 10 carts full of groceries.
By the time the “glitch” was corrected, lots of people had already bagged their groceries and left the store. However, Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said the shoppers had not broken the law. The amount of the transaction more than the available balance was returned to Walmart as “insufficient funds.” Xerox operates the systems that process EBT transactions and had experienced an outage which resulted in the cards not registering spending limits.
The article I read discussed which business should take the financial hit for the items not covered by the federal funds used to support the subsidy program. Xerox executives contend Walmart should have refused to accept the cards. No mention was made of the responsibility of the people who issued the EBT card. Personally, I wondered if those taking part in this program knew their spending limit.
Also, I wondered how many people holding an EBT card had heard about the glitch yet chose to stay home. That seems the honorable choice and I hope many more were in this category than the group that descended on Walmart. Bing Dictionary defines honorable as “having personal integrity: guided by, or with a reputation, for having strong moral and ethical principles.”
We are all faced with choices on a daily basis. Opportunities to take things that do not belong to us without legal consequence; embellish our resume; pretend we do not see someone we wish to avoid; place blame for our mistakes on other people or situations; call in sick to go fishing … Being a person of integrity takes practice. It must be a goal we wish to pursue so it influences our choices. Honorable practices must become our custom. We need to learn to recognize those excuses we so easily make for our behavior.
To do this we need a standard to look to for guidance. God’s Word provides the perfect direction and it’s written for the benefit of those who follow it.
A freezer full of meat and a refrigerator overflowing with fresh fruit is tempting when the grocery budget is tight and the economic future seems bleak. Yet each EBT card used had a spending limit whether it registered at checkout and the fact people filled multiple carts revealed their intent.
They would be wise to return all the groceries they can. Maybe Walmart would not take the items back but at least they would have taken corrective steps.
Why would returning items be a good choice? We weaken our character when we continually make decisions that are less than honorable. Returning items not covered by the EBT card is a restorative measure. One of the definitions of integrity is “the state of being whole, entire or undiminished.”
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