What would you do if your bank gave you $200 by mistake? What an extraordinary gift to receive. I’ve been listening to a sermon series from Lifechurch.tv on blessings. The pastor is talking about all that God has bestowed to us and how we need to offer something back in return.
I went to the bank one recent Monday to cash a check for 170 Q, which is about 20 dollars. I was thinking about the bank giving me my money. I mean Jesus said it’s better give than to receive. But I’ve always wondered about the person on the receiving end. I mean by receiving the gift he is in turn blessing the gift giver. This makes me think receiving is equally as good, or something like that.
Guatemalan banks give and receive money every day, but I doubt they are blessed because they’re rather corrupt. A little corruption took place earlier that same Monday when I walked into the bank to cash the check. There was a huge line at the door, similar to the lines that trailed outside of movie theaters when the original Star Wars movies were rereleased. This line was galactic and growing. I slid into line like a bum waiting for free food. I was hungry and wanted to be out quickly. The guard at the door must have known this because he came up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained to him (in Spanish) that I needed to cash a check. He told me to move over to a much shorter line. I had a feeling he was wrong, but what do I know. I’m only a gringo. Hesitantly I moved over to the other much shorter line. As soon as I reached the bank employee, she made it clear that I was in the wrong place and needed to hop back in the other line, which’d doubled in size. Ok, maybe that’s not really too corrupt, but I stormed out anyway.
I walked up to another bank, which is pleasantly never busy, and close to my gym. It was almost five p.m. when I arrived inside the bank and all of the cashiers were starting to close up. There were a few people in front of me, but no galactic line, so I waited patiently. Shortly a cashier called me over and I handed her my check and my passport and we shared a few moments of awkward silence. I never really know what to say when I’m cashing a check. Yep, that’s my signature. Oh, yeah my passport picture is horrible. Yes, I would like to take you out for coffee (only if they’re cute and a girl). But typically I let the silence consume the room like a heavy fog.
“1 mil y setenta cientos?” she asked.
Confused I nodded and said, “si.” She proceeded to count out the money. Why was she counting out so many 100’s? How much was my check really for? Well, she probably knows what she’s doing anyway. So I just said, “Gracisas,” and headed out for the gym.
But the money felt heavy in my pocket. Had I done something wrong? The cashier was the one that counted the money and she knew her job better than I do, but maybe she’d read the check wrong. I kept walking. Had she really said Q 17,000 (about $200 more than I’d expected)? In the game monopoly you get 200 dollars if you draw the card that says bank error in your favor, maybe I’d drawn that card in real life. I tried to walk as casually as possible, but I felt like there was a huge sign on me that read “Money!!! Take my Money!!” My pace quickened and I could have sworn a police truck was following me. Finally I dashed into the gym, rushed up to the locker room, and counted the money. Yep, she’d given me way too much. I knew there wasn’t anyway the check I’d cashed had been for that much.
So, what do you do when the bank gives you too much money? By the time I had counted the money in the locker room the bank had already closed. I could give some of the money away, pay off some small loans, buy my self some cool new toys.
But, what would that say about me? I’m reading a book that talks about how writers create true characters and he says that characters are defined by the choices they make and true character is revealed by the choices a character makes under pressure. I felt a lot of pressure to keep the money.
Or I could give the money back in the morning. I mean the bank would probably take the money out of the cashier’s paycheck and she probably only makes 1,700 Q in a month. I can’t take someone’s salary. I don’t want that to be a chapter in my story.
It’s funny all of the excuses you can come up with when you don’t want to do the right thing. Some of them even sound right. Like giving some of the money to a beggar on the street. Yet, in the end I knew I had to give it all back. God wants us to give him 10% of what he has given to us not out of what we have taken from others. The sermon I listened to challenged me to give what I have. I gave the money back the next day and it made the cashier very happy. I guess by returning that money, I was making her life a little better. I’m glad I did the right thing. I want that to be my story.