Tag Archives: travel

The Wake-Up Call And The Power Cord

As you may have noticed, your host has been involuntarily separated from Ethics Alarms for about 24 hours. Several things occurred that under normal circumstances would have had me dashing off a post while waiting for flights or preparing to check out of my hotel—and there were definitely several comments that had me reaching for a phantom keyboard—but I was without laptop, thanks to leaving the power cord behind in my previous hotel.

So I have a little story to tell. I stayed at a decent Boston hotel last night, not a 4 star hotel like the one I just left  in Atlanta (The Four Seasons), but a nice one, professionally run, dependable. Yet this morning this was my wake-up call, via recording:

“It’s 7 AM. This is your wake-up call for March 8, 2018.”

Almost at the same time, David Hogg was on CNN, explaining how darned easy it was to create a system that would prevent school shootings forevermore.

Wrong. Systems break down, you experience-free, arrogant, disrespectful, know-nothing puppet.  The belief that human beings can devise systems that will solve every problem, or any problem, and do what they are designed to do without failing miserably at the worst possible times and in the worst imaginable ways is signature significance for a fool, or a child. O-Rings fail. Police don’t act on warnings that a kid is violent. Obamacare raises health care premiums.  Political parties end up nominating Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Jack Ruby breaks past police security. Communism ends up killing hundreds of millions rather than creating a worker paradise. The Titanic hits the wrong iceberg exactly where it’s weakest. Hitler takes a sleeping pill during the Normandy invasion.

The T-Rex gets loose. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, War and the Military, Workplace

A Tale Of Two Hotels: Same Problem, Different Responses

A couple of weeks ago, I stayed at Atlanta’s sumptuous Lowe’s hotel downtown. I like the hotel a great deal, but room service at breakfast is ridiculous: essentially you might as well order the deluxe pig-out, which could feed a family of three. The way the menu is set up, you pay the over $25 for any other choice and get half as much food. This is primarily because a pot of coffee costs more than ten dollars, and only the deluxe breakfast has coffee included.

Even though all expenses were being paid by the client, I hate this, so I decided to order a couple of muffins (still about $15 without coffee, not counting tax and the automatic service charge) and tolerate the free instant coffee that is  offered by the little single cup machines in the room. I was a good plan, but the damn thing wouldn’t work. The water didn’t heat. Annoyed (no coffee, 6 AM, brilliant money-saving scheme foiled), I called the front desk to complain. They sent up a young man—he arrived in about 15 minutes, after the continental breakfast—who fiddled with the coffee machine. It was obvious that he had never seen one before.  Eventually he gave up, apologized, and left to get another one. By the time he returned, I had finished most of the muffins, but I made a cup of (lousy) coffee anyway.

Last night, I had to stay in a hotel to make sure that D.C.’s $%^&$#@! Rock and Roll Marathon didn’t stop me from getting to my early morning presentation to new D.C. bar members. The streets around the venue were blocked off, and weird traffic was expected; hard experience dictated the expense was the better part of valor. There was breakfast provided at the bar event, so all I needed was some coffee in my room to wake me up sufficiently so that I didn’t wander onto 14th street and die.

This time, the hotel was the J.W Marriott, and again the little one cup coffee machine didn’t work. Just like in Atlanta, I called the front desk, sounding even more annoyed about the inconvenience than the before. (This was unfair, of course; there is no reason the Marriott should inherit my upset with Lowe’s.) The response from the desk was identical after I described my plight: she would send someone up to my room to check on the machine. Great.

When the knock came and I opened the door, I was greeted by the head of guest services, in a uniform. He had a new coffee machine with him, and also handed me a bag containing two large cups of Starbuck’s coffee, ten creamers, napkins, utensils, and two hot pastries. He replaced the machine after confirming that it was broken, apologized profusely, and took his leave.


Now that’s service.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, U.S. Society

Occupational Hazard: Those Annoying, Hair-Trigger Ethics Alarms

cab metter

The danged ethics alarms start ringing loudly at the oddest times.

On Thursday afternoon, I was completing a cab ride from Houston’s Bush airport to the downtown law firm where I was to participate in an elaborate Inn of Court presentation, when I noticed some fine print on the window to my left. In its wisdom, the state of Texas had a)  designated me a senior before my time, and b) decreed that such newly-minted seniors were among those guaranteed  a 10% discount on their can fares. I had two disparate reactions to this stunning development in rapid succession.

First, in the tradition of Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” when she raged at her daughter (Debra Winger) for becoming pregnant and thus making it imminent that she would be a grandmother, I was ticked off. Then I thought, “Well, what the hell. If Texas wants to save me money (this was going to be a hefty fare), why should I stop it?” Then the ethics alarms started ringing. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Phooey: No Self-Serving Bias When I Really Need It

At least I'm finally home.

Last month I posted a list of the Top Ten Thought Fallacies That Undermine Our Ethics. This week, I really, really wanted to use one of them. But integrity beckoned. Damn integrity.

I just returned from a week-long speaking trip that took me to Palm Springs and Maui, and involved a total of about 38 hours travel time for a total of 3 hours of actual lecturing and instruction. It would have been about eight hours less and not have required me to be awake for 50 hours (and counting) straight if I had not managed to miss my flight to L.A. out of the Maui airport. Somehow, I got it in my mind that the flight was at 3:30 PM, when it was really at 12:30 PM. I had managed to check the time on the wrong page of my itinerary, and then never looked at my boarding pass. Only dumb luck got me the last seat on the last flight out of Maui on Sunday night. Continue reading


Filed under Daily Life, Professions, Research and Scholarship

Random Encounters with the Human Race: Caring and Helpless

One of the few pleasures left in business travel these days is the chance to meet interesting people who are very different from those I typically encounter at home. One my last trip, waiting for a connection, I was buying a cup of specialty coffee an airport stand from a friendly man with a lovely African accent. “How much?” I asked.

“All of it,” he said, smiling, as he glanced at the travel funds in my wallet.

“Can’t do that, ” I joshed. “It all belongs to my wife.”

And suddenly this stranger who I was never going to see again was pouring out his life story, choking up with emotion in the process. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Daily Life, Uncategorized

Bottled Water Ethics

The Nation, with some good links, makes the rather easy case that giving up bottled water is the most ethical course, not to mention the frugal and logical one.

The one exception where bottled water can be justified is for air travel, since one can’t bring bottled anything through security and the airlines are stingy with drinks. Even in that case, there is a more responsible alternative: bringing  empty water bottles and filling it from a water fountain after going through security.

If only I could remember to take the damn thing…

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Environment, U.S. Society