Tag Archives: Ethics

Honestly…

More often than not I’m an honest person, and maybe a bit too honest at that. There are plenty of times where I can be thoroughly exhausted by form and diplomacy and simply spit out the thoughts in my head. Naturally, people get offended. Sometimes it’s rightfully so, and other times they’re just being too sensitive. It’s never the same reason every time, however I’m just too tired to care.

There are perks of being honest though. Much of my life has been filled with observations of cheating paying off, whether it’s cheating on tests, or a spouse (not my story to tell, but an interesting one nonetheless), what have you. There is a budding culture of “it’s not wrong, if you’re not caught.” I abhor this belief I see in my contemporaries. I’m not perfect, but I keep a good handle on things.

For example, yesterday included a trip to the bank. As I rolled up to the drive-through window, my eyes caught a glimpse of something flat, green, and rectangular. Backing up, I open the door to find a $20 bill lying on the ground. Being so close to the bank teller window, it’s obvious it was part of a transaction. No one would be out of their car to drop their purse or wallet. So, what do I do? I pick the money up and give it to the teller. I explained it was probably part of someone’s deposit.

With this information, she turns around to another teller. The speakers were off, and I couldn’t hear what she said to him. What I did see was the other teller frown and swipe the money from her hands and her laughing. I think I follow what happened only a few moments before my arrival. From the teller’s face, I could surmise there was a rather nasty dispute over the lost currency. It wouldn’t have been his fault, but people get nasty over money for some reason. 😉

Did I expect anything out of the deal? Nope. In fact, I knew I probably wouldn’t even get a thank you out of it. A rarity anymore is a mannered teller. However, I think I did find something of value in the whole ordeal. I righted a wrong. Not only did I spare him the headache of having to defend himself in the future, he has some vindication for when that person comes around next time. It’s a popular branch, and I think they’d be back. I don’t believe in karma, but this is a random act of kindness. This is the stuff I do, and it’s hard sometimes when it goes unnoticed. I suppose I won’t let it stop me from doing it in the future though.

So, would you pocket the money and not say a thing or would you hand it to the teller like I did? Twenty dollars will buy a nice dinner out with tip. It’s nothing to sneeze at. I can also hate the sin and not the sinner on this one, as it’s just part of my “control freakishness” (or so society declares :eye roll:). I’m not looking to browbeat anyone on this. I’m genuinely curious to see if others would keep it.

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The Art of Talking Yourself Up

Even though the video is pitch black, the audio confirms life exists beyond my domicile. With all of the creaking, chirping, and squeaking going on outside my window you’d think wildlife is in need of an oil can. This is fairly common for a Summer’s night in the fields, though, and it’s quite welcome. The alternative is disheartening. I’m strongly adverse to another winter here, but where would I go? Who really wants an outsider? Having the experience of more than one out-of-state relocation, I can tell you few.

At this time of night (4 A.M.), my brain would be faltering and sleep would consume most of my thoughts. This is not the case tonight, as I really put the nose to the grindstone yesterday morning and invested 5 hours of sweat equity into the house with an additional 4 hours of life maintenance (e.g. mowing the lawn, doing laundry, etc.). At least I have a new chandelier, new ceiling fan, mowed lawn, and clean clothes to show for it. It’s a pretty basic work and reward situation. Writing, on the other hand, is a little less straightforward.

I’ve got professional writer’s block right now, but it hasn’t to do with any of my stories. I was going to dedicate a few hours yesterday evening for writing a profile for the family business, but instead fell asleep for 8 hours. Now, I’m wide awake playing personal schedule catch up. While adhering to a schedule is not my idea of fun, there are times when I know I need to move the ball down the field. That’s the mark of an effective person: identifying priorities.

You see, we’re sending in a proposal on Thursday to work on a project with the state of Ohio. The government is making its usual feel-good laundry list of demands and the owners, my parents, have realized they can’t complete it all themselves. Being the good-natured son and dutiful employee I am, I’ve finished some components of the request to speed things up. Coming from a small public accounting firm background, this is another day at the office: a client needs to be done in five days and there’s not even a draft on the partner’s desk… HAUL ASS, PEOPLE!

The biggest block to this profile I have is a crossover… a holdover from the personal realm. Company profiles are tethered to advertising and advertising is indelibly linked to sales. In sales, the concept of “talking up” the product or service rears its oft-deceitful head. Ever hear the expression “could sell freezers to Eskimos” attributed to a phenomenal salesman? Yeah. Deceit brings in money, and this isn’t even speaking on a fraud level. This is everyday business.

I’ve struggled with this concept for decades. My personality is one to reject boasting or otherwise hustling anyone in business. My ethics bind me to a position of letting the quality speak for itself. For years, I thought if my work proved itself strong, it would be self-evident to others. They would naturally choose to work with me. As good and right and egalitarian and logical and ethical and solid as that was on paper, it didn’t translate well in the trenches. Often the client has little idea of what is quality and what isn’t. This is hard for me to accept, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the truth.

Who do they pick? They pick the lesser quality work with a company that dazzled. Even if the client eventually figures out the work is sub par, I’ve noticed clients will work with a lower-functioning business if they feel comfortable with the team. It blows my mind; I, personally, look for results. If someone isn’t performing, I put in the energy to find someone who does. That’s how I do business.

Now it’s my turn with sales. Even though I know it isn’t shuck and jive, it still feels like braggadocio. It’s hard for me to refrain from erasing the sentence I’ve written several times before. I’m getting in the way of myself. I’d love to instantly come up with lines that are comfortable to me and effective with my audience, but I don’t know if that common ground exists. This is absolutely why I didn’t go into sales or do well at the record label. My ethics are just too strong.

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They Call Me Mister Tibbs!

That was a quote from Sidney Poitier’s character, Virgil Tibbs, from In the Heat of the Night. It was in direct response to being called “boy” in the movie. I follow Virgil perfectly. You see, the human condition has a dichotomy of wishing equality with dominance. We’re intelligent enough to create ethical behavior, yet animalistic enough to ignore it when convenient.

I observe people, not in a voyeuristic manner but take note of their actions in public. Avoiding awkward phrases like “people watching,” I merely observe the reactions of others under certain stimuli. It’s more clinical than “people watching,” and many of my observations come from personal experience.

One particular section of knowledge pertains to the less savory of human characters: bullies. They’re everywhere. They come in all sorts of colors and both sexes (no offense the people in the gradient). That is something I’ve been trying to convey for some time, as people tend to cherry-pick their beliefs based on political platforms. Also, societal norms often silence the more surprising cases of hatred. Apparently, I’m privileged, even if I was clothes lined, run over, punched, pelted, shoved, kicked, bludgeoned, choked, berated, gossiped about, back stabbed, jeered, mocked, marginalized, threatened, laughed at and finally alienated. I’ve been expected to shut up about these things, or otherwise be taken less seriously due to my race, gender, and class. My life clashes with political agendas, and my data point is to be quickly spun away.

For anyone with a soapbox, that’s all the airtime I’ll give it. I understand you have crusades elsewhere and won’t stand in your way. People like that are better let go to march on, while men like me are suited to perches high above city centers quietly looking out over the skyline. It’s not as glamorous as Batman makes it out to be.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

So, what’s this all about then? It’s about how I cope and why I do what I think is right. A few months ago, I read a blistering “freshly pressed” article about how a woman didn’t want to be called “ma’am.” I’m not going to link it, as I find it putrid trash. Someone who obviously found the address inseparable from old age belched fire at people she didn’t know for calling her “ma’am” or “madam.” In her egocentric mind, there was no other explanation for a complete stranger addressing her otherwise. I’d like to emphasize complete stranger, for it’s one thing to be upset with the acquaintance and another with the unfamiliar.

Due to all of the experiences I’ve witnessed over the years, I’ve found it necessary to take a stand for myself. I often address unfamiliar people as “sir,” “madam,” “Mister [insert last name],” “Missus [insert last name],” or “Miz [insert last name].” Many of my contemporaries and colleagues will say something along the lines of “Mr. [insert last name] is my father. Please call me [insert first name]” or some variation of that. This is perfectly fine. I am eager to accommodate people with their level of comfort, however I often find myself in the precarious position of requesting my formal address from complete strangers. It doesn’t go so well, and I have to let things slide frequently. It’s still a goal I like to have. My friends and family should know me on more casual terms, but from someone I’ve never met? I’d like a little more respect than that.

That’s why I initially address people as “sir,” “ma’am,” “miss,” “mister,” or “missus.” It’s the respect I never got growing up, and I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I didn’t return the favor. Without even the most basic level of respect, this rock drifting through the vacuum of space is filled with nothing but savages.

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