Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am writing to you because I have been fired from my job for doing the right thing! I am still in shock over the fact that my boss fired me instead of being thankful to me for trying to protect his business from the non-paying customers who shoplift or convince themselves that putting a bunch of grapes in their cart and nibbling at them before they decide they don’t really want them, then go on to nosh on something else without making it to the checkout counter. Then there are the mothers who placate their restless and screaming toddlers with a bags of cookies or pretzels or whatever, that no longer exist at checkout time.


After seeing enough elderly people eating their fill of produce and mothers ripping him off with the unpaid-for snacks, I went to my boss and showed him the log I’d been keeping, thinking he’d be grateful to me for caring about his business enough to show him that these people were regular offenders in his store. Guess what! He just looked at me with this really strange expression on his face, and instead of praising me he fired me on the spot!

That’s what I got for trying to do him a favor! How’s this going to look on my resume? What did I do wrong when all I tried to do was the right thing? I’m twenty years old fresh out of school and it took me long enough to find this job. No one was in a big rush to hire me in the first place because I went to a school for special kids, so I feel really bad right now. My sister told me to write to you because she wrote in to you and you helped her when she had a problem last year. Can you do the same for me? Maybe talk to my boss and see if he will take me back because before this thing happened he always told me I was such a good worker. My sister said that if you called, he definitely would take me back, because you know how to explain things to people. But I still don’t understand what I did wrong, could you please help me with that?


Dear Friend,

I am truly sorry that you were made to feel badly for your honest desire to help your boss by pointing out all those people who were doing the wrong thing for whatever reason, when what they were doing in fact was stealing, just as if they had hidden those items and left the store with them. To take something, anything, be it food or another sort of item, that doesn’t belong to you and knowingly or unconsciously walking away with it without paying for it is stealing. However, as Jews, we are responsible for each other. If we see another Jew who may have consciously or unconsciously eaten anything he has not paid for, and then left the store, it is your duty to notify him/her that it is a sin to steal so the next time they come by they will be more aware of their actions and stop doing it, or if they did it consciously, to make sure they paid for it first so as not to do it again and be oiver on “lo signov.” Because you went and told on them behind their backs to your boss made you transgress by doing another aveirah, the sin of mesirah, to tell on someone in order to gain favor with your boss at his/her expense. The perfect example for showing how two wrongs don’t make a right. But I understand that you did not mean to cause anyone harm or shame. Your loyalty to your boss who thought highly of you and whom you wanted to protect, saw it in an entirely different light without giving you the benefit of explaining to you what he told me when I did call him.

Your boss is a very good and decent man who was taken aback by his very good employee who should have realized that he knew all that went on in his store, but chose to turn a blind eye to the old man who ate the grapes without paying for them because there are video cameras throughout the store. He also knows that the old gentleman is poor and it made your boss glad to be able to do a ‘mitzvah besayser’ by feeding the old man. He chooses to look away for the same reason, at the mothers who are frazzled shopping with a bunch of howling little ones, your boss is happy to take the loss of a few bags of snacks if it make the mom’s shopping easier.

However, when you came to him and gloated on these episodes and tried to make his mitzvah into something petty and ugly, he lost his temper and saw only someone who should have known better. After speaking to him at length, he deeply regrets giving into his anger after I explained that what you did was not meant in malice or to ingratiate yourself further in his esteem, but you did it out of respect for him and his business. He agreed for you to come back to work and next time you see something out of the ordinary, to check with him at closing time. He is truly a very good and decent man who wishes to help out those who come into his store in the only way he can.

So you see, not everything is as it seems and there may be another reasoning for why things play out as they do. I think we all learned a valuable lesson here, and I thank you for entrusting me with your problem. Now stop worrying and get some sleep, you’ve got to get up bright and early tomorrow and go to work!


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