The Honesty Box
Manassas business owner puts visitors and the community to the test
Have you ever stumbled across an unattended honesty box?
An honesty box is left out to gather payment for vending items instead of a real person collecting money. Such boxes can be the ultimate test for a person's honesty. Would you take an item and walk away without leaving payment if you thought no one was watching?
Okra's owner Charles Gilliam recently made an executive decision to use an honesty box when the heat was too excessive during much of this years Civil War anniversary events in Manassas. The heat index reached 120 degrees.
"I had a bunch of volunteers helping with our stand, it was miserably hot and just didn't think it was right to leave them out in the sweltering heat. So I said, 'Lets do something fun, an honesty box.' Everyone thought I was crazy!" Gilliam said.
So just like that, coolers full of soft drinks, water, apple and orange juices, fruit cocktails, muffaletta sandwiches and a table full of t-shirts, chips and assorted fruits were left unattended near "Okra's Honesty Box".
The sign read: Take what you want from our selection. Put your payment in "the box". Take a free t-shirt if you spend $5.
Parks and camping areas across the country are known for using these boxes, but they call them iron rangers. The name comes from their strong and durable construction and that they take the place of a park ranger to collect fees.
The Okra's box is nothing special. No locks and made from cardboard, the box stayed out all day Saturday and Sunday and collected more than $200.
The coolers and box were left out unattended overnight in the VRE parking lot and from what it appears to Gilliam, everyone was honest.
"It was like Mayberry in the 1950's," he said. "I don't think that there was a single dishonest person. They even kept the t-shirts neat. If it wasn't their size, they would re-fold them and place them back onto the stack."
Gilliam and his assistant, Chris, were traveling around town throughout the weekend helping out with events and would occasionally stop by incognito to watch customers' reactions.
"Seeing the good graces and honesty of everyone stopping by was really the highlight of my weekend," Gilliam said.