Monday, September 19, 2005

A Moral Dilemma

Before I discuss today's topic, I first want to acknowledge Pastor Timothy. I just recently discovered his blog, and I was impressed. When y'all are done reading this you might want to cruise on over to his place and see what he has to say. I read some of his posts and found one in which he discusses his objection to those church signs with silly, trite messages on them.

Here is a gift from me to you, Pastor. Forgive me.

Today's post:

The last few weeks have been difficult for me and my son. Financially, I mean.

I make a pretty good income overall, but I am an independent contractor and I drive for a living, which means I pay my own expenses. And with the gas prices shooting up like Roman Candles lately, my expenses have gone up significantly. To go along with that, just when it was time to get my son school supplies and school clothes, I had unexpected car trouble that costs me almost 300 dollars itself.

This past paycheck was a day short because I didn't work Labor day and when I don't work, I don't get paid.

Needless to say, for one who lives pretty much paycheck to paycheck, my budget has become very strained. My rent is late and so is my car payment.

Now that you know something of my predicament, You may appreciate the unique dilemma I had to deal with over the weekend.

Saturday, I took my dog, Beast, for a walk. I first walked him over to the post office and checked my mail. (We don't have mailboxes at the house, we have to go to the post office for it) Then, I needed some cash for the Laundromat and for my son's school lunches, so I walked on over to the building next to the post office, which happens to be the bank in which I have an account.

The bank has a drive up ATM, and as I approached on foot, a car was just pulling away, the driver having just made a transaction. At first, I didn't understand why the screen on the ATM had the message, "Would you like to make another transaction?"

And then I realized that the driver who had just left had left his ATM card in the machine. I looked, and he was nowhere in sight. I had walked up to the machine so my face was high enough over the video camera, that I knew I couldn't be identified if I decided to make "another transaction". The bank was closed.

No one was around.

Suddenly I realized that I could possibly solve my current money problems, at least I could withdraw enough to pay my rent.

I pressed the "yes" button.

I was offered choices. Withdrawal, Deposit, Money Transfer, etc.

At this moment a wave of uncertainty swept over me. If I hit that withdrawal button, there was little chance, if any, that I would ever get caught. I looked all around. A sweat broke out on my brow. I was suddenly aware that I was shaking. My mouth was dry.

I hesitated. A million thoughts flashed through my mind. Should I or shouldn't I? Would it place a hardship on the true owners of the money? Would they even miss the money? Maybe they were wealthy. Maybe they weren't.

I was facing a moral dilemma. I know there are those who are reading this who would say, "How could you even consider that? An honest person wouldn't think twice. They would absolutely not touch that money."

There may be those who are reading this who would say, "Take the money. No one will ever know and besides, it's their own fault for being irresponsible."

What do you think I did? What would you do?

Admittedly reluctant, I forced myself to press the cancel button and removed the card, without withdrawing any cash. Then I inserted my own ATM card and withdrew 20 bucks for myself. From MY account.

I went home and told my son what happened. He asked me, "Why didn't you take some money if no one would have known?"

I replied, "Because I would know."

And so would God.


The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I'd shake your hand then give you a hug if I could.

Good for you!

Can I have my card back now? (^_~)

mlwhitt said...

You had me worried there for a minute, phew, glad you ended up doing the right thing. A good man like you, the guilt would have killed you.

Lores Rizkalla said...

The true reflection of character is what you do when no one is looking.

You're a good man, Mark.

Daffy76 said...

I was worried for a bit there too, Mark.

Just think how hard it would be on the person whose card you found, to have money missing from their account and not know where it was. It's bad enough to lose your ATM card.

Shortly after my husband and I were first married, a cashier at our local Walmart gave him about 10 dollars too much change. He was ready to keep it, but I made him take it back. I just couldn't live with the idea of what that cashier would go through that night when her manager counted her till. I used to be a cashier myself, and if I was just a few dollars short, I was under the threat of being written up.

Do unto others . . .

Daffy76 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

Daffy, you repeated yourself. I deleted your repeat comment.

RebelAngel said...

Doing the right thing can be hard, but doing the wrong thing will end up being harder on you in the long run. You taught your son a lesson he'll carry with him, too. Well done. :)

Michael said...

I've been in similar situations myself Mark, makes you feel really good to do the right thing.

tugboatcapn said...

I am reminded of the words of the great and learned philosopher, Emo Phillips.

He told of finding a wallet on the street and then struggling with the decision of whether to return the money inside to it's rightful owner.

"I asked myself, What would I want to happen if I lost MY wallet...,"He said. "And then I thought...I would want to be taught a lesson..."

Good job, Dude. You made the right decision.

Desperate times are no reason to decend into a life of crime.(Believe me, I know...)
Besides, those ATM's all have cameras.

I enjoy your blog too much for you to go to jail and not be able to post anymore... ;-)

Mary said...

Well-written post, Mark.

I'm not surprised you made the choice that you did, though you had me on edge and beginning to doubt for a while.

I was thinking, "Say it ain't so!"

We all are faced with temptations, but we don't all have the integrity to do the right thing.

Your son is a lucky young man to have you for a dad.

Garza said...

Mark, us realizing we would know and wanting to be true to ourselves, is what seperates the true men from the thieves. We can also sleep well at night and look at ourselves in the mirrow without any guilt. That is worth a hell of a lot more than a few bucks.

Daffy76 said...

Sorry about the repeated comment Mark. Sometimes since you added this gobbledy-gook thing to keep out the spammers, I have trouble being sure what I've posted actually posted.

I'll live though.

Daffy76 said...

Sorry about the repeated comment Mark. Sometimes since you added this gobbledy-gook thing to keep out the spammers, I have trouble being sure what I've posted actually posted.

I'll live though.

jgaoehals14962 said...

Hi Mark,
Thanks for the compliment and the tribute. I've decided to carry my camera with me so I can post some of the deeper lacks of wisdom. :)

I, too, was on edge, hoping you would do the right thing. If obedience were easy, everybody would do it. You did the right thing, and it is difficult to be obedient. Sin is like that prostitute in Proverbs, sooo seductive, yet she leads to death every time. The young man who spends time with her, has a moment or two of satisfaction, and then death takes him away. You conscience, like most of ours, would have eaten you alive. Thank God for our consciences...

God bless,