It’s Never Too Late To Do The Right Thing

by Ron Haynes

A company received a letter with $45 inside along with the following handwritten note:

To Whom It May Concern

Many years ago (25 or 30?) I stole a hammer from this place of business. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. Enclosed is $45 to cover the cost of the hammer plus a little extra for interest. I’m sorry I took it, but I have changed my ways.

I hope God will forgive me for all the terrible things I have done in my life. This just being a small part.

Right vs Wrong Way - Two-Way Street Sign The note wasn’t signed. The president of the company took the money and donated it to charity according to newspaper reports.

Three things stand out to me:

1. The person who stole the merchandise knew it was wrong but did it anyway. Obviously their guilt had stayed with them for three decades! What a horrible load to have to bear for so long, lingering in his or her mind, thinking about it every time someone mentioned a hammer.

How many times have you or I done something that we knew was wrong, but “did it anyway?” Why did we do it? The list of why’s can be long – raging from peer pressure to the “thrill.” But regardless, when we do something we KNOW is wrong … well that’s just the definition of stupid.

2. The person was willing to make amends. Not only make amends, but to pay a little extra. That speaks even more so to their guilt and sense of wrongdoing.

It’s one thing to know what you or I did was dumb, but it’s quite another to recognize it and just blow it off. The person who wrote the note took the step (albeit a late step) to make things right … with interest. Was the calculation accurate? Who cares. The point is that an attempt at absolution was made and the right thing was eventually done.

3. The company donated the money. The company had written off the loss a long time ago, but the president of the company allowed that loss to generate something good by the donation AND by sharing this event.

When someone does you or me wrong, let’s try to figure out a way to flip it into something good, not just for you or me, but for those around us too. What can we do to write off a loss and turn around so that more than just ourselves benefits, to make more than just our lives a little bit better?

What are your thoughts?

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Money Beagle

That’s an uplifting story. I suppose that, over time, every time he picked up the hammer, it got heavier and heavier.

Sometimes what you ‘save’ by not paying ends up costing you more in other ways. Good way to demonstrate that lesson.


Kind of like the movie ‘Pay It Forward’. This type of story needs lots of front page and prime time media focus. I was reading Google news before I read your article. What do the majority of news headlines have in common? Bad news!

We need more GOOD news and we need it promoted. Amidst all the bad things going on, there are good things happening and I’d like to read/hear more about it.

Thanks for sharing this.


@Peggy I really need to see that movie! I keep hearing about it.

Definitely a cool story that I haven’t heard before.


Good story.

This gesture let’s people know that it’s never too late to change, and something good came out of it in the end because the money was donated to charity.


It is good to hear that what I have always though about people may just be correct. People are basically good and end up doing bad thinks in moment of weakness and then end up paying for them the rest of there lives by there own hand. This guy had paid for that hammer many times over I would suspect. Wonder how many times he has though about that over the 25 years and knew he was wrong. Good story and it goes to show you it is always the right time to do the right thing.


Thanks Rick, your absolutely right.

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