Clean Up Isn’t Always Easy

We all make mistakes. It’s part of learning and growth. Sometimes fixing those mistakes is difficult.

it-took-me-a-long-time-to-learn-that-mistakes-arent-good-or-bad-theyre-just-mistakes-and-you-clean-them-up-and-go-on-mistake-quoteIt’s especially challenging when the mistake is not your own. This weekend I was at the Market as usual. I did a 15 minute reading for a woman, which is $20, and she paid me with a $50 bill. Since it was the first full reading of the day, I made change from the bottom of my cash box, where I have a few larger bills. I remember handing her a $20 and two $5’s.

Later that afternoon, she came back insisting that I had not given her the change. She remembers the experience differently – that I got up and went to the front of the tent as she left, not collecting her change. She was quite upset, and very insistent, saying that she totaled up her purchases for the day, and she should have $30 more than what she had, so I clearly had not given her the change.

I absolutely remember handing her the change. She absolutely remembers not receiving it. I offered to split the difference with her, giving her back $15, and she was insistent. I ended up giving her $30 more, meaning I paid her $10 to read her cards.

I was really upset. First, that I was accused of not being honest, that I effectively stole from her. And second, that I had to pay for her mistake. What was her mistake? Did she bring less cash to the market than she recalled? Did she forget a purchase when she was doing her tally? I have no idea. Customer service dictates that I fix it.

A day later, it still bugs me, though I can understand the panic of not being able to account for your purchases. I’ve been there, and it feels awful. Clearly she needed that $30 more than I did. At least, that’s what I tell myself to make it easier to accept. Taking it personally certainly doesn’t serve me.

I’m working on doing my own financial clean up. I’ve made some choices in the past that I’m not proud of. I took some poor advice, hoping that things would work out differently. It’s not easy to admit. It’s not easy to ask for help. And yet, for my own integrity (and my financial health), I have to clean up my mistakes.

Progress means learning from your mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t make me a bad person, any more than the woman at the market was a bad person. I’m more interested in growth than being right, so I’ll do the clean up that is needed, even if it is uncomfortable.



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