Ethics Salvage, 8/9/018: Here’s Why There Were No Ethics Alarms Posts Yesterday, And More

Good morning? What’s good about it?

My plan, as it is most days I travel, was to arrive at my destination (New Providence, NJ), check into the hotel, and spend the evening catching up on ethics posts, then get up early, compose an ethics warm-up. maybe another post r two before I lose control of the day in the onslaught of seminar-leading and more travel. It’s a good plan. Unfortunately, nothing went right. My original flight, into Newark airport, was cancelled after an hour’s delay: Newark had stopped all air traffic. I switched airlines and bought ticket to LaGuardia, where I was told that my client’s limo service could pick me up and take me to my destination.(My program was to start at 9:00 am today.) I got on the plane, we left the gate, and waited. It was storming in New York City and environs. After two more hours, the plane returned to then gate, where we were told to wait around. If things started up at LaGuardia, we were going to have to seize the moment, get on the plane and take off. Never mind: after a half hour or so, that flight was cancelled too.

Thus I ended up at the end of a line of about a hundred travelers , while a single American Airlines agent tried to handle each crisis, a process which appeared to bid fair to last until Christmas before they would get to my urgent need to be in Springfield, N.J. in time to meet up with my colleague and perform a three hour musical ethics seminar for a paying audience of over a hundred lawyers. My ProEthics partner and spouse was simultaneously coordinating with Mike, the musician, on his way to the hotel from Brooklyn, the New Jersey Bar, and the airlines, trying to develop plans B (an early morning flight from Dulles or National and a mad dash to the seminar), C (an overnight train trip), D ( driving to New Jersey), and E (hiring someone to drive me, so I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel). Cancelling was never an option: I’m a show-biz guy, and the show must go on.

For some reason an American agent came over to the back of the endless line, and said, conspiratorially, “Who wants to go to JFK?” About 2o of us eagerly followed her to another gate, and I eventually found myself on a plane to JFK—which stalled on the tarmac, because JFK had halted take-offs and landings too. After an hour or so, the pilot announced that he had “timed out” along with the rest of the crew, and that we were returning to the gate, de-planing, and would wait for a fresh pilot who was en route, assuming his plane arrived.

Well, to cut out a lot more twists and turns, eventually I got to JFK, paid $250 to have a car take me to my hotel in New Providence, and got to bed at around 4 am,  with a scheduled pick-up by a limo service to take me and Mike to the venue at 8. The limo driver got lost, incidentally. Then it was a blur of a three-hour interactive seminar (Mike, as usual, was brilliant), back to the airport, more delays, and home by about 7 pm last night. I started this post around 9, found myself unable to think, and went to bed.

My friend Tom Fuller is fond of saying that if you have no options, you have no problem. I had no options, but I do regard not being able to get posts up in a timely fashion a big problem.

I was, however thinking about multiple ethics issues that arose during my odyssey–actually, a Cyclops and some Sirens, even Scylla and Charybdis,  would have been welcome diversions from Airport Hades—and will pass some of them along now:

  • It is amazing how many passengers are mean to the airlines gate agents when flights are delayed. They are clearly not responsible. Even the airlines aren’t responsible: weather and regulations are not within their control. Mostly, the agents yesterday were remarkably well-trained, restrained, professional and tolerant.

Even United’s agents…

  • My client expressed admiration that I would continue to try to get to the program after all the obstacles, telling my partner that most contractors would have just cancelled. Really? I don’t understand that mentality at all. It’s unethical. As long as there is a way to fulfill a commitment, no matter how inconvenient, burdensome or unpleasant, the obligation remains.

The show must go on is one area of ethics where the entertainment world shines.

  • My client asked if I had an Uber app, as we discussed the trip from JFK to New Jersey. I said that I regarded Uber as an unethical company with an engrained unethical culture, which I do, and thus the answer was no.

The Ethics Alarms dossier on Uber is here

  • Desperate Line Ethics: With all of the chaos, several flights were pending after the hours where Reagan National typically shuts down. Thus all of the stores were closed save one, where a lone employee was left to service a long, long line of hungry, thirsty, exhausted travelers, including me. All of us were in a rush—it was risky to be away from the gates for long. Did the members of the line therefore take this into consideration, take a reasonable number of items, and make an effort to minimize the wait for the rest of us? Nah! Many of them literally had their arms filled with bottles and junk food. Did they pay with cash, shortening the transaction time? Of course not. The clerk, meanwhile, felt no obligation to process any faster that she would if there was no line and it was 2:00 pm on a slow Monday. (THIS behavior by clerks and bank tellers has driven me nuts my whole life. When I was a teller, our branch would get a rush of check-cashers every Friday after noon, resulting in huge lines. I made an effort not only to work faster, but also to move the customers along, eschewing small talk while others were waiting. )

I finally gave up and replaced my items, but not before saying, “Nice hustle there, Sparky!” to the slug-like clerk.

  • When I arrived at JFK at around 1:30 am, I was on my way to the distant yellow cab line when a well-dressed young man said, “Can I take you anywhere? No waiting!” I instinctively said “Sure.”

I never take rides from gypsy cab drivers, who are skirting the system to the detriment of the licensed and regulated drivers. This time, I did so without a thought. I was tired, every second counted as a second of extra sleep, as I knew I would be giving my program without proper nutrition or rest. There are all rationalizations, though. Maybe the trade-off between my professional duty to do the best possible job for my clients and my citizen’s duty to not reward law-breakers  qualifies as an ethics conflict.

  • I later discovered that the driver was NOT a gypsy cab driver, but an Uber driver—you know, from that company that I refuse to patronize on ethical grounds. He didn’t say he was Uber (unethical), but I’m pretty sure I would have jumped into his car anyway, given my state of mind.

It was a lovely Humvee, with bottles of water in the backs seat, and a pleasant drive with a lively conversation about American Presidents.

  • Finally in my hotel room, I discovered that I had forgotten a toothbrush and toothpaste. The night clerk have me both, gratis, saying, “You look pretty fried. No charge.”

I will remember that, Best Western.

  • Getting my first real meal in 24 hours at the Newark airport, I found myself at the bar of one of those computer-self-ordering restaurants that are now proliferating. The guy next to me detested the system, and asked the surly bartender, who was the only human being in evidence, if he liked the system. “Works for me,” he said.

As I then told the annoyed diner, the ones it doesn’t work for are all the out-of-work employees who are having their jobs eliminated because grandstanding, SJW theory-over-reality Bernie-ites in states like New York, Washington, Minnesota and California have pushed the minimum wages up to the point where it costs jobs and results in cold and unpleasant experiences for consumers.



52 thoughts on “Ethics Salvage, 8/9/018: Here’s Why There Were No Ethics Alarms Posts Yesterday, And More

  1. We encountered one of those ordering machines for the first time at LaGuardia about 2 years ago. Not a fun or easy process, I agree.

      • I haven’t seen the scan shops yet. Goody, something to look forward to!

        Welcome back, by the way. I was a bit worried without an entry yesterday, but figured you’d run into trouble.

        • Our last visit to Walmart had basically no staff and all self scanning. We rarely shop at them but now we really don’t want to. The experience was creepy.

          • Mrs Q.
            I am very familiar with WalMarts shift to what is called Scan and Go. Neither my wife nor I will use them after one experience. Until, WM figures out a way for shoppers to back out a duplicate scan we will wait in line to have an employee handle our transaction.

            Wal Mart is a case study in what happens when large corporations are shamed or should I say coerced into paying higher wages. Wal Mart has been a target of the SJW’s for years in which the corporation had been characterized as expoitive of its workers. What most people fail to consider is that to offer low prices costs have to be kept at a minimum. For years, WM was criticized for negotiating in a manner that was thought to be monopsonistically expoitive of small producers. Later, even though they had starting wages above minimum and offered some benefits it was not enough. Some even claimed WM was being subsidized by government because it did not “pay a living wage”. No where was there any suggestion that if anyone was being subsidized it was the lower income consumer who benefitted from their lower prices.

            As costs are driven up, eroding profit margins firms that position themselves as price leaders will continue to adopt technology to minimize costs wherever possible.

            Shoppers cannot expect lower prices and demand the same level of service when costs rise. What is happening however is that all grocery prices are rising and more people are being displaced not by technology but by ever increasing demands for more money.

            • I refuse to use any self checkout. Until they start offering at least a 10% discount on my bill for doing the job that the store should be paying someone to do at least. I fail to see why I should pay for the same price while doing the store’s work for them.

            • I can remember first using self scanners about 20 years ago. I had no choice as I was shopping in the wee hours of the night and that was all they had. My memory is that those scanners 20 years ago were a bit more sophisticated than the ones you see today at grocery stores (just for example, there were provisions for having, say, 20 copies of a single item).

              In general I don’t mind using the self-scanners for small orders, especially when the full service lanes have a 15 minute wait. However, try scanning 10 cartons of soda when you not only have to take each one out of your basket, but then find a place to set them down in the bagging area. The clerk will have a scanning gun and do it in 1 / 20th the time.

              Additionally there are so many exceptions and things the self scan stations don’t handle that they must have a clerk on duty there at all times (you cannot scan coupons for example).

              It was originally, I assume, a labor saving idea (or a way to help staff stores on 3rd shift), that I’d be willing to bet doesn’t save as much labor as the originators touted. On the other hand, the labor it does save is probably much more expensive today (and going up) so maybe that helps.

              The person it really hurts, I’d say — someone like my 16-year-old niece looking for a way to earn a little money after school.

      • On a road trip earlier this year, stopped at a McDonald’s for a quick coffee and bite. They were transitioning to an automatic order process, and had employees guiding folks through the process. It was actually pretty easy for an old computer guy, and the employees were all public about it not costing any jobs – they were just providing better service, such a bringing your order to your table, like Chik-fil-A does. Automation has happened before and it’ll continue. As to your travels, I happen to be a Lifetime Platinum on American (mostly because that was the Company Airline during my travel days) and it is really interesting to see how many travelers are really inexperienced as to travel delays and how badly they treat people with no responsibility. As to myself, I can still just call the dedicated service desk for members and get a new itinerary quickly. Airlines really need to help the folks who are not frequent flyers to navigate the system, and perhaps automation to that level isn’t far off – we can only hope.

    • “Cancelling was never an option: I’m a show-biz guy, and the show must go on.” Exactly the right attitude, but, man, that had to be tough. Glad you’re back.

  2. Ahh, Newark Airport. My own personal vision of Purgatory. You may or may not know exactly why you’re there. You know you’ll eventually get out, but you don’t know when or how much indignity you’ll suffer until you do. All you know is that you WILL suffer.

    Especially Terminal A.

  3. I later discovered that the driver was NOT a gypsy cab driver, but an Uber driver—you know, from that company that I refuse to patronize on ethical grounds. He didn’t say he was Uber (unethical), but I’m pretty sure I would have jumped into his car anyway, given my state of mind.

    He could have been a Lyft driver as well….

    Either way, without booking through the app, he was technically a “gypsy cab driver”, as there is no way to privately log a trip without the app.

  4. Sorry you had a rough time, Jack. I can empathize, as I used to travel for my job, many moons ago.

    …As long as there is a way to fulfill a commitment…

    You had paying customers, waiting to be taught. Young skulls full of unethical mush, for whom you could provide the supreme service of moulding (like silly putty) into ethical professionals, a noble cause. OF COURSE you did what it takes to get there: civil, moral, ehtical society expects nothing less. I have always done EVERYTHING in my power (including low grade bribery) to get to the destination my customer expects me to arrive at. It is what one does.

    Those who would have quit at the first excuse (“I got a splinter, going home now”) are what the pop culture SJW worshiping hollywood demented society expects: falling standards everywhere, cuz ‘work is hard’ (insert nasal whining voice here)

    …I regarded Uber as an unethical company…

    Uber can bite me. The only good I see of the company is breaking the Taxi unions, which are no longer of use to society in general. Why can they bite me? Because, given a chance, they will become some form of Taxi union, without the benefits of the suckers they sort-of employ.

    I will remember that, Best Western.

    I have not stayed in a hotel in several years, but took wifey to a little get away to celebrate her return to the workforce (as in CURED, dammit!) this fall. We stayed in a Best Western (after I wrung the travel sites for every drop of information) and got a great bargain: reasonable price, excellent service and amenities, clean and updated room, great location, and secure parking. The survey I took afterward glowed.

    …grandstanding, SJW theory-over-reality Bernie-ites…

    The loss of jobs is by design, by my analysis. The more people depend on the state, the better socialists like it. They understand that the peons will lose jobs, and that they will be not better off with $15 per hour (fewer hours) but they do not care: the ends justify the means.

  5. slickwilly said:
    “I have not stayed in a hotel in several years, but took wifey to a little get away to celebrate her return to the workforce (as in CURED, dammit!) this fall. ”

    Can’t tell you how happy I am for you and your wife. Congratulations!!And it was damned nice of you to celebrate. Good man.

  6. And this is why I take Amtrak. Acela would have been about $300 round trip — and a regional as low as $120 if you booked earlier.

  7. Jack I think I missed or don’t remember your uber post and the link comes back to this post. No worries I will take a look later. From my personal observation Uber has been great the few times I have used them and from what I have gotten from friends. Now all my use and most of my friends have been in rural areas, and those driving were from rural areas, for us it fills a transportation gap and helps locals financially.

  8. Jack,
    I can definitely relate. I’ve have traveled heavily for my job the past 20-something years. Because I live smack in the heart of flyover country, roughly 80% of my trips connect in Chicago O’Hare. Anyone that travels through O’Hare regularly knows that a mistimed sneeze will start to back up flights.
    – The show must go on: Indeed. I don’t cancel until I’ve exhausted all options. Commitments should not be taken lightly and, if nothing else, it’s just good business.
    – Mistreating Gate Agents: Wrong thing to do for so many reasons, the Golden Rule not being the least of them. Saw a guy in Kansas City take this to extremes a long time ago and he ended up being led away in cuffs.
    – Self-ordering/checkout: Outside of the conversation around how SJW’s pushing for increased minimum wages have been a driver in this, it’s just one more way to limit personal contact/interaction with others. Eventually, no one will be able to communicate with anyone else except through abbreviated, truncated, incoherent, sentence fragments.

    I’ve been lurking for a couple years now and rarely a day goes by that I don’t check out EA. I have to say, I’ve learned a lot from you and all the folks that comment here. I’ve only just now worked up the nerve to comment myself. Part of that is because there are quite a few regular commenters here that express the same things I think, usually in a better way than I could.

    You are providing a much needed service and I greatly appreciate it.

    • Cannie said:
      “Mistreating Gate Agents: Wrong thing to do for so many reasons, the Golden Rule not being the least of them. Saw a guy in Kansas City take this to extremes a long time ago and he ended up being led away in cuffs.”

      First, let me add my welcome. Don’t be shy about commenting. People correct me all the time…I make poor word choices, or my memory, spotty at the best of times, fails me. To your quote…Gate Agents have considerably more pull than you’d believe. How’d you like to be in Chicago, with your luggage in Boise/? Trust me, piss these folks off at your peril.

        • Slick… because he is a wise gentleman and fellow colleague from the state of Texas, I simply won’t allow DD to take the wrap for the worst comments. Many people know that when I do comment, my comments are the worst! When I was young I liked to break thermometers and play with the mercury…that is the reason for my distinguishly bad comments when I choose to make them. Mercury! That is my story and I’m sticking with it. 🙂

          Slick, your comments ain’t all that bad either.

  9. I like the Sheetz kiosk especially on road trips. Get fuel and food and get out quickly without having to deal with some booger eater entering my order wrong.

    They have been using kiosks for ordering for a long time. They have the process down and it could be used for almost any fast food place. Hell I wouldn’t be surprised to see nearly fully automated fast food joints in the future with just basic care takers being the only humans involved.

    • ‘The factory of the future will only have one man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to keep the man from touching anything.’

      Not sure where I heard this, but think it funny.

          • I am glad that it served you well! I recently entertained the idea of buying a classic car, so I went on a few test drives of the 1981-88 Olds Cutlass Supreme. Those things were screaming metal death traps, but boy were they classy. I can understand America’s decades long love affair of the bygone with the personal luxury coupe.

            • What a pity Jack prefers light opera to rock and roll. His new band could be called Ethical Jack and the Screaming Metal Deathtraps.

            • The day I gain a few extra hours of hobby time, I really really really want to get WW2 era Jeep Willys to fix up. The burden is finding one that has an original serialized engine. And it’s near impossible to find one that isn’t a rusted hunk of metal any more or one that isn’t some wealthy man’s former hobby that they want to sell for 30 grand.

              Money is so relative. When I was in high school, an old veteran down the block from me had a Jeep Willys from WW2 (no, he didn’t ‘acquire’ it as soldiers sometimes do when they leave the service with equipment that slips off the record). He was selling it for $1000.

              But I was a freshman. A thousand bucks may as well have been a hike a to Pluto.

              As an adult, in retrospect, 1 grand should’ve been a no-brainer to suck it up one summer and grind the cash out instead of goofing off with my buddies.

      • Valid reason.

        I’ve got a tradeshow / professional conference to attend next week that’s a 5 hour drive away.

        Flight is exhorbitant in relation to mileage compensation. So I’m driving. But, I hate drives over 2 hours when I’m alone. I arrive in a daze where it seems like years have passed. Of course, the flip side is that I catch up on lots of podcasts.

        Regardless, it’s my 2nd most favorite city in Texas, so that’s a plus.

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