Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bashing George

Okay, it's 11:15 PM the night before class.  I wrote the team paper almost unassisted, and now I've got to get my two individual ones done.

The short one is supposed to be about that ethics inventory I took a week ago:

Ethics Awareness Inventory Analysis

Prepare a 300 - 600 word analysis of your completed Ethics Awareness Inventory. Interpret your results, and apply them to your Personal and professional development. Include a statement explaining how your educational experience has impacted your ethical thinking. This analysis should address your use ethics in thinking and decision making, and your potential for conflict in situations with people who have different interpretations of ethical behavior.

Problem is, I pretty much did that last week, in my first paper for this course.  I've having a little trouble writing the same thing again using completely different words.

The longer one is supposed to be a

Professional/Workplace dilemma paper

Prepare a 700‑1050 word paper analyzing a professional dilemma and values conflict that you experienced before you began your major course of study or during your program of studies at University of Phoenix. Be sure to complete all three sections of the assignment.

1. Describe the experience. What was the ethical issue you experienced? Who was involved? (Please use only first names or initials for the participants.) What was the relationship of the other individual(s) to you?

2. Analyze the ethical dilemma:  Was there a difference in power and authority? Explain. What were the ethics in question? What personal values were in conflict? What were the potential outcomes? What were the potential consequences to you and the other parties involved?

3. Evaluate the outcome: What was the outcome at the time? What were the consequences to you and the other parties involved? Based on what you have learned since you began your program of study at University of Phoenix and through your continuing work experience, would you handle the situation differently or the same? Explain.

(c) University of Phoenix, 2004.

On this one, I've had trouble deciding which of two incidents to write about, so I wrote premiminary rants about both.  They each involve a certain employer I had at the time, who was later arrested for check kiting. Both incidents took place twenty years ago in another state. It would not be hard for some of you to deduce which state that was.

One: The Robbery

I don't remember much about the gun. The year was 1985.  I was the de facto manager of Store #1, having repeatedly been promised a promotion from shift supervisor, a promotion that never came. Money was tight and my store was relatively uncrowded, so most of the time there was only one person working there.

One day, a man came into the store while I was alone. First he asked about the latest record by Prince. I showed him a copy.   Then he showed me a gun (or possibly a gun-shaped bulge in his pocket) and said, “Put all your money in a bag—and don’t look at me like you want to get to know me.”

Defying the robber was out of the question, but there were degrees of compliance to consider. The store had money in three places: the register, the CTO cashbox for selling local concert tickets, and the change and “skim” in the back room. I hadn’t done a skim in a few hours, but there was probably $300 in the desk in the back room. The robber knew about the ticket money (two minutes in the store would reveal its probable existence), but he might not know about the money in back. Question: should I lie to the robber about whether there was additional money in the store, thus protecting George’s interests, or give the robber the money from the back room, slightly reducing the chance that he would shoot me?

Two: Demotion

Later that year, the company’s cash flow problem reached a crisis point.  “On hold” with all but one of the record distributors due to nonpayment, George was unable to stock the stores with more than a few copies of current best selling albums and tapes. His response was to leave my smaller store without new product, and to expect me to sell older stock.  When this did not work, he decided to remove all remaining LPs and cassettes from Store #1.

Where's the sorceror's apprentice when you need him?George and I spent all morning at this task, boxing up the recordings andpushing record bins to the periphery of the room, forming a smaller sales floor.  The album bins were placed with the slots facing away from the customers, empty and inaccessible. Silk wall hangings featuring such rock acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Grateful Dead were hung over the bins, completing the new “walls.” Wall hangings, T-shirts, blank tapes, leather water bottles, T-shirts and purses took up the reduced floor space.

Aside from the fact that it was now impossible for Store #1 to maintain reasonable sales figures, my immediate problem was that moving heavy record bins that had stood in one place for eleven years had sent a large amount of dust into the air and around the room.  I spent the rest of my shift cleaning.  When Chris relieved me at 4 PM, I told her to continue cleaning, which I assume she did. 

Ticketron was big in those days.The next day, I was told to report to work at Store #6 to sell concert tickets.  This job as “ticket girl” was considered entry-level work, but I did not complain.  Since I had not taken the hint, George then called me at home to tell me I had been demoted.  The complaint against me was that George and his wife had come to Store #1 early on the morning after it had been stripped of its stock, and had found it a dusty mess.  George claimed that there was even a dead fly behind a stack of blank tapes.  The fact that I had spent five or six hours cleaning the store the previous day, trying to cope with the dust George had sent into the air, was discounted as a self-serving lie on my part.  Question: should I allow myself to be maneuvered into quitting, bringing economic hardship on my family but saving George money, or stay and defend myself against the false charges?

Now, here's the real question:  which one makes a better ethics paper?  Pardon me while I work on my homework in this blog, but I'm having trouble working this out. 

#1 is relatively simple.  Lying to the robber about whether there's more money hidden away probably isn't unethical with respect to the rights of the robber.  He has no right to demand such information, and I have no obligation to tell him.  If there are ever times when it isn't morally wrong to lie to someone, surely this is one of those times.  No, the dilemma is this: protect my employer's interests, or try to reduce my own risk of getting shot.  John wouldn't like it if I got shot.  At the time, it felt as though lying to the robber increased the danger to me personally.  But would it really?  "You lied.  You deserve to die."  Bang Bang!  Come on!  Does that really seem likely?  But I was far from confident about this at the age of 27 or 28.

#2 is a little more complex.  For one thing, I had mixed motives at best, whether I quit or refused to do so.  The altruistic reason for quitting would be to ease the financial burden on the company, possibly helping my former co-workers to get their paychecks.  The altruistic reasons for staying would be to protect my family's finances, so that John did not suffer through no fault of his own; and standing up for the truth, rather than agree to the lie of my having done a bad job.  Less altruistic reasons for quitting would be to reduce stress caused by working where I'm not wanted, a chance to get a sudden vacation from working.  Less than altruistic reasons for staying would be to spite George, and my own defensiveness, which cannot bear to let me take the blame when I'm not at fault.

So which did I do, in 1 and in 2?  Stay tuned.

I think I'll write up #2.


Update:  I did write up #2.  It took me all night.  See my new posting in Inspirations for an update on that and my health. (Yes, I did finally see my doctor on Tuesday.)


ryanagi said...

Yup...#2 sounds like a more complex ethical dilema. But I want to hear the outcome of BOTH stories! LOL

jeff466 said...

#2 sounds like a good choice to write about, although number #1 is interesting-I would have showed him ALL the money and helped carry it to the car if it meant my safety!

I had a job where I was blamed for something I didn't do, I stood up for myself and ended up quitting anyway when they didn't believe me.  

Glad you got your paper done :)  Jeff