Monday, 19 March 2012

A minor ethical dilemma: Bus tickets

Last Friday I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the number 25 to take me into town. As I was standing there a man called to me across the street, "do you want a day saver mate?" The man was kindly offering me his used ticket, which (being still valid for the rest of the day) would give me free journeys into town and back. I took the ticket, thanked the man, and started thinking about how good it was that you can still count on the kindness of strangers.

My thoughts soon moved on, however, to the ticket that was now sitting in my back pocket. Would it be dishonest of me to use it? Would it be unfair? Would it constitute theft?

What would you do?

Well, here's what happened. To the left is a picture of the actual ticket I was given. You might be able to see that it says "jrny: 20" somewhere near the top. That means that the guy originally bought the ticket on a number 20 bus. I started thinking about the remote possibility of getting caught out: what if the bus driver asked me where I had bought this ticket - could I remember which route the number 20 bus took? Was it Radbrook?

Then I realised I was trying to work out the most effective lies that could get me out of that unlikely, but sticky, situation.

A lot of people work like this: get what you can for as little as possible, and if that puts you in a spot, lie your way out of it.

I figured that is more of a worldly mindset than a godly one. So I paid for my tickets.

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