Joey Prusak and the case of the $20 thief

Browsing online news outlets over the weekend I came across an article about Joey Prusak, a 19-year-old Dairy Queen outlet manager in the US. What a pleasant change to the usual reports of death and destruction this story is!  A feel good story about a selfless act that the world of social media has caught on to and sent viral.  The abridged version goes like this…

Joey-PrusakA visually –impaired customer entered the Dairy Queen where Joey worked and ordered a sundae, but while paying for his purchase dropped $20 on the floor.  An elderly woman behind the man quickly swooped, picking up the money and putting it in her purse. Witnessing this unfold Joey asked her to return the money but she refused, claiming it was hers all along.  Again Joey asked the woman to return the money and refused to serve her unless she did, after which she stormed out of the store in a huff.  Joey, apologizing to the man for the incident, proceeded to replace the stolen $20 with money from his own wallet. Another customer in the store that day witnessed Joey’s selfless act and wrote to his boss, Nancy Pettit explaining what had happened and praising Joey for his selflessness. What Nancy said to him as a consequence, is what inspired today’s blog – “You’re the type of man I’m proud to know.”

Reading these words made me reflect on the people I’m proud to know.  In all areas of my life I am blessed to know people who strengthen my faith in humanity, who set the standard and inspire others to follow. Common among them is a capacity to care, to stand up for what’s right and sacrifice for the benefit of others. While far from perfect, the people I’m most proud to know have strength of character and are a great example for us all. Their integrity, courage and compassion are reflected in the priorities they set, decisions they make and the actions they take.

Stealing moneyContemplate for a moment the importance and prevalence of these qualities in your workplace.  What difference does it make when people bring integrity, courage and compassion to what they do?   Reflect on the positive impact people who bring these qualities have on the spirit and success of those around them.  Now reflect on your current reality; how much do people on your team really care about one another and your customers?  How willing are they to challenge inappropriate or unethical conduct?  To what extent do your colleagues make sacrifices for the benefit of their teammates or good of the company?

Joey Prusak’s actions provide a great example of integrity, courage and compassion.  I suspect many people would have chosen to quietly object to the thieving granny’s behaviour rather than confront her.   Challenging people about their conduct can be a daunting and even intimidating prospect for many of us, but even at the tender age of 19, Joey had the courage to step up in an effort to right a wrong. He is an example to us all and I’m really glad Joey’s boss considers him a man she’s proud to know.


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