Who doesn’t express outrage at times at the misdeeds of others, lamenting the “moral crises” that beset our society?   Rarely do we lack targets for our discontent.  They may be greedy bankers, corrupt politicians, conniving corporate leaders, steroid-stuffed athletes, even zealous lobbyists or students who cheat.  Can we trust anyone out there?  But are we any better than those we’re quick to condemn?  That’s probably unfair, but such a reaction was prompted the other day when over coffee at a neighborhood luncheonette, I watched as a fellow diner nearby scooped up all the sweeteners at his table (Equal, Splenda, and Sweet and Low) and jammed them into his jacket pocket.  That started me thinking about other forms of “wrongdoing” that many of us engage in at one time or another.  Some seem “serious”, others less so.  But I’ll leave such categorization up to you as we enter the realm of questionable conduct and consider –


– Demand they be granted 40% off, even though the item they wish to purchase was (mistakenly) placed on a rack announcing such a price reduction.

– Abandon “unwanted” pets along isolated stretches of road.

-Sneak into other movies in a multiplex theater after viewing the film they paid for.

– Lie about the ages of their children in order to avoid paying at all or to qualify for a lower rate.

– Remain in their cars for long periods of time with their motor running.

– Notice the waiter has neglected to charge for a dish, but say nothing.

– With at least twenty grocery items in their carts enter a checkout line limited to ten or less.

– Demand payment from an individual who’s hit their car but then, ignoring the damage, pocket the money.

– Find a wallet, remove the cash, then return it to the owner.

– Fail to pay for an item when an honor system is employed and no attendant is present.

– Ask to pay in cash to avoid sales taxes, or who hire workers “off the books”.

– Make checks out at charity gatherings and claim the entire amount as a tax deduction.

– Scrape a car in a parking lot, then drive off without leaving their name and phone number.

– Keep an undersized fish they’ve caught in violation of regulations.

– Fail to mention certain “problems” to a prospective buyer of their home.

– Move directly into a supermarket aisle that’s just opened despite the crowd at the adjacent check-out counter, together with those who consistently jump lines, whatever the occasion.

– Return a garment after wearing it.

– Walk away after breaking an item in a store.

– Accept a phone solicitation, but never honor the pledge.

– Eat food while heading toward the cash register and fail to pay for the amount already consumed.

– Write a note to the school to excuse their child on account of illness when he or she simply wants an “off” day at home.

I’m not contending that any of the above measures add up to the monumental wrongdoing that has come to light in recent years.  But, is it fair to suggest that some of it emerges out of a cultural environment where “honesty is the best policy” is regarded as just one of several options. 

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