Honestly Making Money Based on Conscience
My husband and I set up a recycling station. At the outset of doing business, we treated every customer with sincerity. Especially when the old came to sell scrap, we would give them special favor. Customers were so trustful of us that they all sold scrap to us. Over time, our business began to become brisk. We could make one or two hundred yuan each day. Figuring it out in this way, we could make five thousand yuan a month. I was very content with that.
One day, a business friend came to visit us. When he was drinking with my husband, he sighed and said, “Alas! My business is not doing as well this year as the former years. In the past two years, much money could be easily made. At that time, I could make from seven to ten hundred yuan a day at most. But I can’t do it now: Every day I can only make four or five hundred yuan; even when I make the most, it just reaches six or seven hundred yuan.” Upon hearing that, my husband said in surprise, “We can only make one or two hundred yuan a day. But you can make so much, how come you still feel it’s not enough? What’s your acquisition price?”
The friend said, “Now there are many recycling stations and the competition is fierce. I lost some regular customers. But now I offer the highest price to collect their scrap, making some of them come back again.” My husband said helplessly, “Offering a high price means you can’t make money.” The friend said with a proud look, “Since I offer a high price, I certainly give them short weight, or else how can I make money? Do you not use some tricks on your platform balance?” Hearing his words, my husband and I felt a little puzzled. The friend seriously said to my husband and me, “You’re just too honest. Do you think people in this trade are all honest? These years, if people don’t cheat or make extra money in their business, who is willing to do it?”
I said, “Doesn’t cheating others mean we lose our conscience?” He said indifferently, “Conscience? How much is the conscience worth? If you don’t cheat, you can’t make much money. Now business people are all doing like this.” Subsequently, the friend told us a trick of how to cheat customers. That was to remove the original weigh-beam from the platform balance, to buy a false weigh-beam that could give short weight to replace the original one, and then to decrease the weight by forty percent (fifty kilograms of scrap scales only thirty kilograms). Then, he personally taught us to practice it on our platform balance. He taught and said, “After the original weigh-beam is replaced with a false one, pull the beam out when you want to give short weight, and push it in when you don’t do it in ordinary days. In this way, it’s not easy to be found by others.” At his words, I immediately understood: It turned out that they made money by cheating customers. Little wonder that people of the same trade around can make four or five hundred yuan a day while we can only make one or two hundred yuan. But then I thought: If I give the customers forty percent short weight, then don’t they suffer too much loss? Doesn’t that mean gaining profit at others’ expense? I can’t cheat others like that, or else I’ll have an uneasy conscience. Though the friend taught us a “good method” of making money, I still did business honestly.
A Dull Business Swayed My Heart
After another period of time, people selling scrap to us complained that our price was low, so they all went to where a high price was given. Seeing customers left one after another, I felt very desolated and thought: What have you done? The recycling stations offering a high price are all cheating you. How come you still go there? Gradually, people who sold scrap to us became ever fewer. We could only collect several orders of scrap a day and make little money. Seeing our business became bad, I was very worried, thinking: If this goes on, not to mention buying a house and a car, it will be even difficult for us to pay our rent and living expense. Then how shall we live on? …
Just when I was worrying about our livelihood, I suddenly thought of the friend’s words, “These years, if you don’t cheat, you can’t make money and can’t survive….” Right. If I still follow my conscience to honestly make money, I’m afraid that I can’t stand firm in this society. It seems that I have to play some tricks like them—offering a high price to attract my lost customers. Otherwise, our business will close down. But at the idea of that, I felt a bit uneasy in my heart: No. That’s too conscienceless. But I thought again: Now this society is too realistic. If I don’t play some tricks but still do business honestly, when can I buy a house and a car? And how can I gain status in this society? Like this, I thought this matter over and over in my heart. Finally, I had no choice but to make up my mind: As long as I can make money, I don’t care about conscience. How much is the conscience worth? As the saying goes, “Money makes the mare go” and “Money is not everything, but without it, you can do nothing.” Others can play tricks and so can I. It’s not merely us doing so.
Going With the Tide and Cheating On the Platform Balance
Later, we bought a false weigh-beam and set it on our platform balance, and started to learn giving short weight. Once, a customer carried a load of scrap to us. I thought: This customer comes with so much scrap; even if I give him short weight, he can’t perceive it. So, when the customer was unloading the scrap, I intentionally put an iron weight on the weigh-beam and then began to pull that weigh-beam. I thought: In no way can my trick be found by him. Otherwise my business will be ruined. With this thought, I tried to cheat on the balance. I didn’t want to decrease the weight much, so I adjusted the weigh-beam to decrease by thirty percent. But my hands kept trembling uncontrollably. The more nervous I was, the more I couldn’t find the balance point. And more than that, I had to cast a sidelong look at the customer, afraid of being seen by him. In order not to let him find the trick, I had to converse with him to divert his attention when I weighed his scrap. At this time, I was so nervous that I even couldn’t bring my mouth under control, trembling all over and not knowing what to say. Not until I weighed the customer’s scrap, paid money to him and saw he left, did my nervous tension relax. This was how I gave the customer thirty percent short weight for the first time. I had a guilty conscience and my heart thumped violently, because I thought: Once my trick was seen through, not only would my face be ashamed, but the customers’ confidence level of us would also decrease. In that case, we would ruin our livelihood. But for the sake of our business, I had to do so.
Afterward, every time I gave short weight, I was haunted with fear and had an uneasy conscience. I was afraid that when I was giving them short weight, customers would find my tricks and catch my wrist to settle accounts with me. I was also afraid that after I gave them short weight, they would be aware of it later and produce suspicion so that they would come to get even with us and take revenge on us…. These scenes often replayed in my mind like a movie. As time passed, I always had a sense of fright in my spirit. However, every night when I did accounts and found that we could make double what we did before, the sense of fright in my heart would be entirely cast to the winds. Holding the money I “made,” I would calculate in my heart: If our business can go on like this, it won’t be long before we can buy a house and a car. Thinking of this, I felt sweet in my heart, as if seeing the wonderful life appeared before my eyes. Gradually, the uneasy feeling in my conscience disappeared. Instead, I felt that if I didn’t cheat every day, it seemed that I didn’t make money that day. In order to buy a house and a car early and live the life admired by others, my husband and I felt it was still too little even if we made four or five hundred yuan a day.
In Order to Make More Money, I Racked My Brain
Later on, I saw that my business colleagues all associated with the steel mills and then went there to carry scrap. In that way, they could make more money. After I talked over with my husband, we also associated with a regular customer and went to carry scrap at a fixed time. However, after a period of time, the iron price began to drop. We had expected to make money from them through carrying scrap, but we lost money instead. Facing such situation, both my husband and I frowned and pondered over trying to find some ways out. At that time, a business colleague provided us with a trick: Buying over weighmasters to help us decrease the weight and paying one thousand yuan to them for decreasing each ton’s weight; loading several bags of sand on the truck to increase its weight before weighing the empty truck on the weighbridge…. My husband and I thought twice about it, and in order to make more money, we finally decided to negotiate with the weighmasters. Pretty soon, we reached an agreement with them. After that, I became more certain of these sayings such as “How much is a conscience worth” and “Money makes the mare go,” feeling that as long as I could have money, who would care about whether I have conscience. Thereafter, each time we carried five tons of scrap from the mill, we would ask the weighmasters to decrease one and a half tons’ weight, and then we would only pay the mill for three and a half tons of scrap. In this way, we could make four or five thousand yuan or even more through carrying each load of scrap. Not long after, we bought a house and a car, becoming rich in the eyes of others.
Though I lived the life that I had dreamed of, I always had an inexpressible sense of fright in the depths of my heart: I was not merely afraid that our tricks would be found and get us into trouble, but also feared that my husband would run into an accident when he carried scrap alone…. I wanted to give up the tricks but couldn’t resist the temptation of money. If we went on, I always didn’t have peace in my heart. Just like this, I lived under a state of fear and anxiety and mental pressure all day long, feeling that my life was very tiresome.
Salvation Came Upon Me and I Came Before God
Once, I went to visit a friend and talked to her about my latest trouble. Hearing that, my friend gave me a book on belief in God and said its content could solve my trouble. And she testified God’s work to me. Back home, I read these words in the book, “The eyes of the Almighty look around the severely afflicted mankind, hearing the wailing of those suffering, seeing the shamelessness of those afflicted, and feeling the helplessness and dread of the mankind who has lost salvation. Mankind rejects His care, walks their own path, and avoids the searching of His eyes. They would rather taste all the bitterness of the deep sea, along with the enemy.” “He desires to seek, seek your heart and your spirit. He wants to bring you food and water and to awaken you, so you are no longer thirsty, no longer hungry. When you are weary and when you begin to feel the desolation of this world, do not be perplexed, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time.”
These words deeply touched my heart. I felt what they said was just my present situation. When I didn’t have money, I looked forward to having it. In order to make money, I did too many deceitful things so that my conscience was accused. When I had money, I still didn’t feel how happy and cheerful I was, but instead I lived in fright and fear all day, afraid that my doings would be uncovered or I would suffer retribution. … I felt my life was so exhausted. Now I knew: It turns out that I keep away from God. Conversely, God watches over me by my side, and waits for my return so that I can come before God and receive His salvation. God’s words gave me comfort and warmth. Later on, I accepted God’s work of the last days.
To Be Continued …
By Chen Xiang, China
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