Ethical laziness

I’ve spoke often here about my efforts to do the right thing, be it returning money that I found, correcting someone when they give me too much change, etc. It seems only fair that I report my ethical missteps as well. Yesterday’s dinner was a prime example.

Before the movie, we went to Panera Bread to get something to eat. I got a sandwich and soda; Kelly got a small soup, 1/2 sandwich and soda. But for some reason when they printed the bill, it came to almost $20. I looked at the bill and pointed out that they had charged us twice for the soup. So far so good. The cashier goes to get the manager. He comes out, looks at the bill, apologizes, asks for my credit card and gives me a $4.01 credit, which accounts for the soup plus tax.

It was only after I sat down that I realized that they never swiped my credit card the first time around because I never gave it to them. In other words, instead of paying $16 for dinner, I paid nothing and was given $4.01.

I could have gone back up to the counter and tried to explain all of this but (a) we had a short time to eat before the movie; (b) it seemed complicated; (c) I had the idea that I’d somehow get charged twice if I did. So I chose not to.

Yes, it was the wrong thing to do, and I’ve felt guilty about it all night. It was an example of ethical laziness of which I am ashamed. All I can do is try to do better next time.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.