Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Quiz about Values and Ethics

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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7 comments:

Glee said...

I just DO NOT do any xmas shopping in the last half of October and November and December. Can't bloody well get round the shops anyway cos they are so chocked up with merchandise I can't get to anything.

Other times when my way is blocked I push things out of my way using my chair and if stuff falls over then that's bad luck. If I can't have access at all then I yell across the space that I can't get in and that they are missing out on my money.

Do I get embarrassed doing that? No not at all. I don't give a rat's arse what they think.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it really is about ethics. Perhaps principles. And as in almost everything in life - they are also affected by attitudes. The attitude of the server can change anything. If the attitude of the booking agent for your tickets was more positive and service orientated - you may have not minded the wait or call back quite as much. Her attitude affects your attitude. Obviously the attitude of this server sy yjr dyptr affected how you felt about the purchase. Of course, getting mad at the person behind the counter (button pushing interact lady excepted)usually doesn't solve much unless they are the owner of the establishment.

Values do come into play - as in, am I being valued as a customer. Not everything has to be a war - but we do need to put the armor on for battle. (Although I think lopping off a few heads at the ticket box office might be effective...ha ha.)

Glad you had a great feeling of accomplishment with your shopping.

Glee has a point - this time of year it is almost impossible to navigate any store, any isle as they are so chock full of merchandise. "Grandma may have got run over by a reindeer" - but I got revenge today running over a few from a toppled display - it wasn't pretty. Couldn't be helped. (No animals were harmed in this shopping experience :-))

Team Lando said...

It sounds like you made a good decision here, all because of the clerk's attitude. Seems like they'll try to change things, so it's worth spending your money there this time - but if they didn't change or seemed to shrug you off next time, I wouldn't go back.

joanne said...

perhaps you just really wanted the bracelets? Sometimes I'll put up with practically anything (against my better judgement) if I really want something I don't think I'll ever find again. To me, that's human nature. Thanks for the thought Dave.

Jayne wales said...

Voted for blogs. Great!

Anonymous said...

I think that at times there’s a dubious value in fixity, consistency. I would think that bcos I’m not very good at it. A friend commented that I’m often totally convinced, sincere and dedicated to a position or opinion, and then next time she sees me, I’ve changed my mind and I’m totally convinced, sincere and dedicated to a seemingly opposing position. I don’t take this as a criticism, and I don’t think she means it as such, it’s just an observation.
I think there is an association between mutability and womanhood, which maybe makes me more easy about living this.
Just some thoughts.

Kristine said...

I don't know, I don't think anybody is really perfectly consistent all the time. It's everything you named, plus a million other tiny factors that contribute to moods, priorities, and focus in any given moment. My personal values and ethics are a reflection of what's most important to me, and of the kind of person I WANT to be. It's not necessarily the person I always act like. Our inconsistencies keep us interesting. :)