Integrity: A Lesson from school

Estimated read time 3 min read

In today’s world, the importance of acting with integrity cannot be overstated. Even in the face of challenging situations, upholding our values remains crucial. I encountered a prime example of this today, which prompted me to reflect and share the experience.

My day kicked off at 7 am at O’Fallon Township High School, where I joined the line to obtain a parking pass for my son Chase, a Junior who was already across town attending soccer tryouts. The line was lengthy when we arrived, stretching down the side of the school, and the doors weren’t opening until 7:30. (Apparently, some early birds had been there as early as 5:30 am.)

The wait was relatively uneventful – we exchanged pleasantries with familiar faces, engaged in conversations, and patiently waited our turn in line. After the initial wait, we paid the fee for the pass and were directed to the next line for receiving the actual parking pass. As we stood in line, a couple of girls struck up conversations with those in front of us. Initially, this seemed harmless, but as time passed, it became clear they were subtly maneuvering their way into the line.

With courtesy in mind, I inquired if they were merely engaging in conversation or attempting to join the line. One girl responded that they were just chatting with friends. My approach was respectful, though my wife signaled that one of the girls might be associated with our daughter’s cheer team. Her subtle message was to avoid embarrassing our daughter, but sometimes I miss these hints (or ignore them).

The incident sparked a difference of opinion between my wife and me about how to handle line-cutters. I chose to let it slide, albeit my frustration grew. Eventually, we reached the office to provide our car information and collect the parking pass. Astonishingly, one of the girls was still nearby, filling out her form when we finished. I couldn’t help myself and remarked, “Thank you for joining the line in front of us. I recommend looking up the word ‘integrity’ when you get home.”

This prompted an unamused glance from my wife, but we moved on. When she inquired about my response, I explained my perspective: If we all assume that someone else will address inappropriate behavior, no progress is made. This sentiment reminded me of my past experience with a team member who had been mishandled by multiple managers. Their growth had been stunted due to a lack of constructive feedback, which I ultimately had to provide during their annual review.

Was it my responsibility? No. Was it necessary? Perhaps. Did it leave me feeling better? Not definitively, except that I didn’t stay silent. This situation underscores the significance of integrity and how it influences our daily lives – even in seemingly trivial scenarios like line-cutting for a parking pass.

Rant aside, I’m moving forward with my day, hoping to inspire consideration of integrity’s impact. Wishing everyone a wonderful day ahead!

Best regards, Jack

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