Two weeks ago, something rare happened to me. I had taken a cab home and as I was paying the cab driver, I got a digit wrong, and the money, Sh270, went to someone else. I immediately tried to reverse the transaction, but was unable to, even after a second and third try.
Eventually, I got a message informing me that the reversal failed because the money had been used by the recipient. I, of course, had to pay the cab driver, because the mistake was mine. By then, though it pained me, I had written off the money, I was never going to get it, and was, in fact thankful that it wasn’t a larger amount.
About 10 minutes later, I received a message from someone informing me that I had sent him money by mistake.
I immediately tried to reverse the transaction again only to get the same message, that there was no money to reverse.
I called the number and a man answered on the other side. I asked him to send back the money since the reversal wasn’t going through. And then he said, his exact words, “Niko na shida ya fuliza, tukilipwa next week, nitakutumia…” The money that I had sent him had been swallowed up immediately because he had an outstanding mobile loan. The hope that had been buoyed by that text deflated like a balloon.
There was no way I was going to get that money because in spite of his good intentions, once he got “paid”, he’d have conveniently forgotten his promise. I told him “Sawa”, and hang up. I mean, what do you say to that?
I had banished the incident from my mind when a few days later, it was on a Thursday afternoon, my phone pinged. I had a message from M-Pesa saying that someone called Solomon had sent me Sh270. To say I was shocked would be an understatement because I cannot remember the last time I experienced such a level of honesty.
I was in awe, ladies and gentlemen, that the ‘nimeangukia’ mentality hadn’t yet caught up with this young man, (he sounded young over the phone) never mind that he relied on mobile money loans to survive until his next paycheck.
I was so surprised, I texted him back to thank him. I have to ask, when was the last time you experienced an act of such honesty?
When you lend your friends, even relatives, money, do they refund it when they say they will? Do they keep their word? Have you ever sent someone money by mistake and had this person refund the money without any prompting?
I dare ask, what about you? Just how honest are you when it comes to money? Do you owe anyone that you had promised to pay? Did you ever receive a transaction that you knew was not meant for you and kept it?
Forget money-related honesty. What about honesty with the promises you make? Promises to your spouse, your children, your family, your colleagues at work… Do you keep your word?
That encounter with this honest man restored my hope in humanity and challenged me to take an introspective look at my actions and determine whether they would pass the honesty test.
The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com