Friday, September 12, 2014

Do the Right Thing!

Do you think you are a moral person? You probably do. There are very few people who consciously think of themselves as evil, immoral or heartless. Even people who kill puppies for a living usually have what they see as good reasons for doing so. From time to time we all have to make decisions, some small and some large about what sort of people we are. Generally these are not difficult and life altering major decisions like telling your dying friend that his wife cheated on him and he has been raising another man's children or escaping a sinking ship and realizing that the lifeboat only has enough room for two other people when you have three kids. All the same morals are morals no matter how minor the decisions seem to be. The choices we make in situations both big and small define the sort of people that we are trying to become. There aren't necessarily right answers to many of these questions but there are probably some answers that may seem right to you. Some questions are purely hypothetical; others are drawn from real life experiences, albeit not necessarily mine. What's the right thing to do in the following ten situations?
You're out in public. You notice that a highly attractive member of the opposite sex has some writing on a body part normally not visible to the general public. This could be a very important message. If this person didn't wish for you to read the writings on their (insert body part here) they wouldn't have ventured out dressed as they did, would they? So what do you do? Avert your eyes? Take a quick look and move on? Openly leer? Politely inform the person that they are showing more flesh than they may realize? Or saunter over to ask the person what the message says as you can't quite make it out from your vantage point? 
You are with your unmarried significant other at an important family event. You think that s/he could be the ONE. This is your first chance to make an impression on their family. Your honey's parent makes an offhand comment to you on a sensitive topic (race/religion/culture/politics) that makes you see red. You wonder how a person this stupid manages to dress themselves every morning. But your special rider thinks their parent hung the moon. S/he told you beforehand that their parent had different views than you. S/he asked you to be nice. Arguing with their parent might destroy your relationship with Miss/Mr. Wonderful. So what do you do? Do you pretend agreement? Say nothing? Gracefully change the subject? Or let this ignoramus know how dumb they are? Would your answer change if you were married?

At the grocery store you buy something cheap. The cashier makes a mistake. He returns too much change. E.g, he gives you back two $10 bills when your expected change was $2.10. Do you point out the mistake and return the money? Or do you take the money and keep it moving? After all it's not your fault he can't count.
You're on a company critical project. You discover a catastrophic flaw. You need time to correct the problem. You may need to redesign everything. Without a fix you KNOW there will be massive failures, bad publicity, legal consequences, and increased costs. You tell your boss. Your boss says the project has been delayed long enough. She insists that you cut corners to make the target date. She doesn't trust your analysis. She says any problems can be fixed later. This is not a debate. She informs you that you will meet the date. She warns you against going to upper management, ownership or the press. The boss says this issue is closed. All she wants to hear from you is "Yes. We will meet the date". Getting on her bad side is a career limiting move. She has a long memory and highly placed friends throughout the company. So what do you do?
You're attending a company training event. This week long class is required for your next promotion. You must create and deliver a multimedia presentation on various business cases. The instructor wants teamwork. He has randomly assigned everyone partners. The instructor will judge you on the final presentation and on cooperation with your partner. Your partner is a man infamous throughout the entire department for ignoring basic American hygiene. He last showered during the Clinton Administration. Soap, toothpaste, deodorant and daily clothing changes are foreign concepts to him. He can make you nauseous. The other students know this and definitely won't switch partners with you. What do you do? Grit it out without complaining? Tell the instructor that you can't work with this person? Or angrily tell Mr. Skunk that unused soap is worthless soap?


A good friend has privately told you that the thrill is gone from their marriage. He or she is cheating. They are entirely unrepentant. Their spouse is completely clueless and still believes that Mr./Mrs. Cheater is wonderful. The cheater just wanted to vent. They don't want their spouse to know. They don't want THAT headache right now, especially since they're on their way to the no-tell motel. You are also REALLY good friends with their spouse and routinely see them, both with and without their adulterous other half. The faithful spouse believes that you are righteous. They would see your silence as a horrible betrayal. So what do you do? Mind your own business and let grown people work it out? Tell the other spouse what's going on?
You're at an impasse on a work assignment. Your task must be completed tomorrow but that looks unlikely. Your boss has gone home. There is another more experienced, higher ranking person who could immediately provide the solution. However, in the past when you asked him for help, he made a Broadway production of how busy he was. He said that if you wanted him to do your job for you then he wanted your salary. He ultimately gave you the answer you needed but not without a humiliating dressing down disguised as humor. You can ask him for assistance, eat a big load of crap, get the answers you need and meet deadlines. Or you can continue to fly solo. You'll stay late and will probably miss your project time commitments anyway even if you do eventually find the answer. Your boss will be VERY upset with you if you miss your deadlines. So what do you do?


Walking through a grocery store aisle you see a person knock an entire section of items off the shelf. They do not put anything back on the shelf and just continue on their way. What do you do? Do you also ignore the items on the floor because you didn't create the mess. Do you confront the person who knocked the items over? Do you start putting things back yourself?
You have a valuable investment. Selling it won't permit you to retire but you will be able to improve your savings, carry out some home improvement projects, and provide seed capital for your long postponed Evil Overlord project to rule the world. But before selling the asset and admiring your fat wallet you learn that a close family member (but not your spouse/sibling/parent) is in a serious financial jam. Rescuing them will cost roughly the expected profit from your asset sale. Do you help your kin? It will take years to recoup the lost cash. Do you stick to your original plans? Would your answer change if it were a first degree relative?

You've had a long hard day at work. You're dead on your feet. You're taking crowded public transportation home. You're about 20 minutes away from your stop. Fortunately you found a seat. Standing people are packed together like sardines. A visibly pregnant woman gets on the vehicle. There are no open seats. No one offers her a seat. She's in front of you. She's not verbally asking for your seat but she is making eye contact with you. Do you offer your seat? Is your answer dependent on your age or gender?
blog comments powered by Disqus