An act of honesty makes it right

Posted by Lucy Luginbill on April 26, 2013 

Many have heard of Honest Abe, our 16th president of the United States who earned that nickname when he was a young store clerk. Realizing he’d accidentally short-changed a customer, Abraham Lincoln walked a long distance to return the few cents owed.

It’s a portrait of honesty and integrity.

But how many people have heard of Richard Kallsem? He isn’t found in school kids’ history books or been the subject of a headline, but Richard is a picture of honesty that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

This story begins a few weeks ago when Richard, a retiree, wandered into the As Seen on TV section of the Richland Fred Meyer store. Already his cart was filled with groceries, but with a little extra time to spend on “just looking,” a bright green garden hose caught his eye. The $12.99 price caught his attention too.

“I thought it would be nice to try out,” Richard says about the lightweight flexible hose advertised to fit in a pants pocket.

But Richard wasn’t into impulse buying. He walked a few more aisles and then made his decision. He’d buy that hose.

However, when he and his friend, Roberta Taylor, reached the checkout counter, they were both in for a surprise. It rang up at $19.99.

“No! It’s 12.99!!” Roberta remembers them chorusing, disbelief on their faces.

Puzzled, the cashier scanned the price code again. Still $19.99.

“We were adamant,” Roberta recalls about their insistence — and certainty — that the hose was mismarked.

“I’ll go check if you want me to,” Richard had kindly offered, “but she ran it through anyway at $12.99.”

Two days later, Richard decided to try out his new garden hose. But when he started to unwrap it, he noticed something very important — and disturbing. Instead of a 25-foot hose, he had picked up a 50-foot!

Without a moment’s hesitation, the senior citizen fired up his Dodge diesel 1-ton dual pickup for the trip across town. The high cost of gasoline wouldn’t detract him from doing the right thing.

“I’ve always had a certain principles to live by,” Richard says passionately, “and honesty is one of them. It would have bothered me until I got it done.”

Like Honest Abe, Richard wanted to set things right at Freddy’s customer service.

The difference he owed the store was only $7 and a little tax — something that could have been dismissed since it was in his favor and no one else knew. But to Richard, the amount of money wasn’t what mattered.

“From the time I was young, I wanted to be a good person,” the elderly man reminisces with feeling.

And at the close of this story, it seems Honest Richard has achieved his goal.

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