Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Character Does Matter

              A story that has gone viral on the Internet has to do with a 19-year-old employee of Dairy Queen. The term, “going viral” can mean a number of things. In searching for some basic definition for this term I came away with this assessment: Going viral means your video, article, or picture became fabulously popular virtually overnight.

So, this young man, Joey Prusak, working for Dairy Queen in Hopkins, Minnesota has now been crowned “King of Kindness.” Just exactly what did he do to receive such an honor? Well, as the story is told in the newspaper, Joey was working the counter at the ice cream shop when a young customer who was blind unknowingly dropped a twenty dollar bill. Before Joey could say anything an older lady (50-60ish) standing behind the blind customer reached down and pocketed the cash. What happens next should cause each of us to take pride in this young man and his willingness to do what is right. That’s a true sign of character.

When the woman approached the counter, Joey told her that she needed to return the money to the blind man or leave the store, because he was "not going to serve someone as disrespectful as [her]." "She made a big scene, started swearing," he recalls. (That would be a sure sign of a lack of character on her part.) She even claimed that she had dropped the money. Eventually, she chose to leave. A customer standing behind the older woman witnessed this all, as well as what happened next, and was inspired to write to Dairy Queen's headquarters. In the letter, she writes: "What happened next I would have never expected. Your employee (Joey Prusak) approached the young (blind) man and took out his wallet, and said 'Sir, on behalf of Dairy Queen I would like to give you the $20 bill that you happened to drop on the ground as you walked away from the counter. I realize that this is not the $20 bill you dropped, because the older woman stole it but it does still have the same face value.'"

What employer wouldn’t give his eye teeth for such an employee! Because this story has gone viral, countless numbers of people have mailed twenty dollar bills to Joey. I’m betting Joey does something very sacrificial with the money.

The Bible says a number of very interesting things when it comes to your character and the importance of keeping your integrity. In Psalm 15 we are offered a look at the person who would desire to live with the Lord God forever. I like the way “The Message” translation puts it: 1 God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? 2 “Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. 3-4 “Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. 5 “Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.”

The response from the big-wigs at Dairy Queen is most interesting. International Dairy Queen has called Joey to thank him for being such an inspiration and told him they will be mailing "something" his way. According to his Twitter, he also received a call from Warren Buffett. "I felt like the right thing to do was to give him the money," Joey said. I can only guess as to what that “something” is, but I would like to suggest that Dairy Queen provide Joey with a full-ride scholarship to the four-year college of his choice with the ultimate goal of having him join their management team.

I don’t know this young man, nor can I be certain what was going through his mind during this incident in his store. But his last comment, “I felt like the right thing to do was to give him the money,” tells me all I need to know about this man’s character.

I applaud Joey for his doing the right thing. Yet isn’t it interesting that a story about someone doing the right thing goes viral on the Internet? We cheer for the person who acts the way they should anyway. It seems we have become accustomed to people’s poor behavior to the point that we’re literally surprised, even shocked, when someone of any age, but especially a younger person, shows such strength of personal character.

This story may never have been made known had that other customer not taken the time to write to Dairy Queen. Because she did, a fine young man has been duly recognized for character traits that strengthen any community or organization.

May God grant our nation more Joey Prusak’s who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do!

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