Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Lesson In Morality And Character

In today's Spokesman Review we have a piece by Jim Kershner (log in to get the full story) in which he admits to stealing from a parking lot company. He paid $3.00 for his parking and the receipt spit out by the machine has an expiration date of July 27, 2010. Based on a previously unpleasant experience he had with a parking lot company he has justified using the receipt twice, allowing him to park without paying.

Let's say it was $3.00 each time so the parking lot is out only $6.00. What's the harm, right?

Still, there’s a little voice in my head that says, “Is it right to take advantage of what was obviously a mistake? Shouldn’t I throw that receipt away and pay my parking fees like everyone else?”

So far, another little voice has replied, “Nope.”

Still, I want to know what you think. Should I keep using that receipt? Or not? E-mail me with your vote at

Meanwhile, I urge all downtown parking patrons to take a good look at their dashboard receipts. One kiosk out there believes it’s a slot machine, and it’s issuing jackpots.

When a cashier gives you too much change back do you bring it to their attention?

If you see someone drop a five dollar bill, do you keep it or return it to them?

Mr Kershner asks a very good question: Is it right to take advantage of what was obviously a mistake?

So far the answer hasn't stopped him.


Jacque Hendrix said...

I ready the story too. It was a good one. I'd literally lose sleep if I did such a thing. And to answer your questions...yes (especially if it's Fred Meyer), and return.

Not said...

What if one company has a monopoly on downtown parking? I wouldn't rip them off myself, but it pleases me that someone else does.
- Ventura

John Speare said...

I'm with Jacque. I tend to have a pretty rigid code of ethics with this kind of stuff. Maybe too rigid. There are probably scenarios where taking something makes ethical sense, but in this case, I hear my mom's simple answer to complex what-if scenarios and justifications: "stealing is stealing."

Sherry said...

Yes, I tell cashiers when they've made a mistake either way, and yes, I would return a dropped bill (of any denomination.) I want my own tiny piece of high ground to stand on.