Kelly and I went to Steak ‘n Shake last night, an old favorite we rarely visit anymore. On the wall was a photo of Herb Leonard, my old boss. I doubt if Mr. Leonard remembered my name, but he taught me an unforgettable lesson when he could have just as easily sent me to jail.
Mr. Leonard owned the Steak 'n Shake where I was the window guy back in 1976. I received orders from outside and passed them on to the grill guy and the shake guy. A couple of the carhops began asking for their tickets back. I eventually realized that they were erasing big ticket orders and writing in small drink orders. They would report the 89 cents and keep the $22.
Of course, Herb Leonard caught them, and he knew the only way for the scam to work was if the window guy was in on it, so he invited me to his office. He made it clear that he could have me arrested – for the second time at Steak ‘n Shake – but he wanted my side of the story. I explained that I was aware of the situation but not involved. He asked why I didn’t say anything, and I replied that it wasn’t really any of my business.
Mr. Leonard looked at me a long time. “John,” he said, “anytime anyone steals from the man who signs your paycheck, they are stealing from you, too.”
In 35 years, I’ve not forgotten. Thanks, Herb.