Small Business—Honesty is Always the Best Policy.


This is Rosa. She sells fresh fruits and vegetables in a stall in an alley off the main street in Black River, Jamaica, West Indies.

 On a recent trip to the south west coast of Jamaica to investigate vacation real estate, I stopped in the nearby town of Black River to do some errands. Of course I couldn’t resist the luscious local produce she was selling. After purchasing some produce,she handed lemons2me the bag.

 Black River is about a 45 minute “route” taxi drive to where I was staying in St. Elizabeth’s Parish on the SW coast. If you haven’t been in a “route” taxi, I must tell you…it is a rather daunting (and dangerous) way to travel..(…but when in Rome)….the roads are potholed and very narrow for 2 lanes of traffic, making for a white knuckle ride. And adding to this is the custom of packing 4-5 people in the back seat of some pretty run down “taxis”. Yup, you may be sitting on someone’s lap, with your feet dangling out the window.

taxi route When I returned to the house of my host, I opened the bags of produce and found a small rather heavy, black plastic bag. I opened it up and a large wad of paper money, coins, cell phone, receipts, keys etc were inside.  Rosa has inadvertently handed me her entire business! You can imagine my shock at this discovery. My host called her on the cellphone( thank goodness it was in the bag) & explained in Jamaican patois, the situation. The plan was that I would return the next day, yup, you guessed it, by “route” taxi..again… a grueling 45 minute ride each way.

 When I finally arrived , I searched around for the alley where Rosa’s “shop” was located …a maze of cars, blaring music over giant loudspeakers, throngs of people, feral cats and dogs, vendors hawking wares, 90 degree heat,with the smells of curried goat wafting in the air. It wasn’t an easy task!

 As I approached, she recognized me immediately, I handed her the bag and she threw her arms around me, with tears in her eyes. It was a solemn moment. I assured her that I wouldn’t t have done anything else. As I went about my errands, I was back out on the main street and I saw Rosa coming towards me. She threw her arms around me again, thanking me so much. I didn’t feel I deserved this, but I was happy that she was so grateful and her worries were over.

 This experience will most likely stay with me a lifetime, since I do believe everything happens for a reason. And I’m glad I was the one who mistakenly got her money..

 The moral? Well, honesty is always the best policy, and never hesitate to do the right thing. Sometimes a seemingly small incident could be a complete life-changer for someone. As it turned out, it was a life altering experience for me!



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