An ethical quandary at the soda machine - Newsday

An ethical quandary at the soda machine

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist. ...

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been good friends with another couple for more than 10 years. We meet them for dinner with our families on a regular basis. I have noticed that my friend (who is an affluent money manager) will order water, get a cup and then serve herself soda from the "self-serve" soda fountain. This theft embarrasses me to no end, and, frankly, I find stealing on even a small level to be a sign of bad morals. We have small children, and I do not want them to think this behavior is OK. The more I venture out in public, the more I see people stealing drinks, making me wonder how people justify this behavior? The knowledge that the cost is passed on to the rest of us also is irritating. On the other hand, we do love these people, and I don't want to anger my husband by offending them. Amy, can you offer me some advice on how I should I handle this?Conflicted

DEAR CONFLICTED: Your children's morals will not be polluted (or diluted) by being around other people who behave unethically.


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Because you are raising them.

If anything, this presents a "teachable moment," where -- if they happen to ask you -- you can say, "I would never want you to help yourself to something you hadn't paid for, but she is making her own choices and I'm not her mom."

Also, I can't understand why it would anger your husband to have you bring up a topic reflecting your own point of view with someone who is your friend.

You can say to her privately, "I notice you always help yourself to the soda when you haven't paid for it. Do you think that's ethical?" Leave your husband and children out of it.

Your friend may have a ready answer for why this is justifiable behavior, and you can respond honestly by telling her you completely disagree.

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