I've been discovering recently, much to my discomfort, that my personal set of ethics is no longer set in stone. I wish it were. But it's not. I like to believe that there are certain things that I believe that are unalterable, unchangeable, unshakable. I'm sure there are - the big ones, like about murder and theft and neighbours asses - but those don't really come up in day to day life. Well, I suppose I should say, in my life. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
When I became a wheelchair user I decided that I would not shop in a store that I couldn't get into, that I wouldn't give my money at counters that were inaccessible, that I would use my purchasing power as a consumer to make changes. I hold to that mostly, but mostly because it's pretty easy to boycott a store that doesn't let you in anyways. But I've been finding myself facing situations like the one today.
I had one more gift to get for my parents and I went shopping for it at a local department store. I found it. It was perfect. This meant that on set of gifts would be ready for wrapping and shipping. The gift in hand I went to the counter. It was blocked by a display being set up. No way around at all. Joe got busy, before I could ask him not to, making room. I got through barrier number one. The second barrier was immovable. Joe said, taking the bracelets from my, 'How about I just buy this?' Now, I need to admit that I was about to ask him to do the same, it was like he read my mind. So I sat there, several feet away from the counter that I couldn't get to, watching my money switch from my account to the store's account.
Oddly, when in the United Kingdom a couple weeks ago I was in a similar situation. In the store but not able to make the purchase - I made an entirely different decision. I let them know that if I couldn't pay then, well, I couldn't pay. I set the item down and left the store. No histrionics, just a sale not made and a customer not satisfied.
What's the difference?
I don't know.
True, I was feeling tired today when this happened and didn't have a whack of energy to protest. But that's not it.
True, I really wanted to have this shopping done so the wrapping and shipping could happen and thus be assured that it all arrives on time. But that's not it.
True, I still believe that I shouldn't spend money where I can't spend money. But that's clearly not enough.
I think what made the difference was that the clerk, today, was mortified about the inaccessibility. She immediately said that she was sorry, that she didn't notice that the space was so narrow, that she would talk to the manager about it. The clerk in England said none of those things, didn't seem to care that I couldn't get by, didn't offer even a hint of an apology. Maybe that made the different. But, I don't think so.
Over to you ... do you find that there are times when you push your own values and ethics aside and other days hold to them hard and fast? And if you do ... what makes the difference. I feel I have the answer inside me but I just can't find it. So I'm eager to hear what you have to say.
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