Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ethical Dilemma

Stuart and I ran out of IDR. I thought we'd had enough to last us until the last minute of our trip, but didn't account for the shopping that I did.
Joey is now sleeping after a nice relaxing morning of early rising, going for a walk, and having fluffy pancakes with daddy at our FAVORITE bakery, Kakiang Bakery and Cafe.
I went out of the hotel room with 20 USD, hoping to exchange it and do a little last minute shopping. There are plenty of things I'd love to buy, but I have to remember that we have lots of things already, and accumulating 'things' is not exactly something we want to start making a habit of. Especially since, back home in California, we have no real place to put anything new.
I walked down the steep hill toward monkey forest to a small money changing shop. 11,500 IDR/1 USD. A pretty decent exchange rate.  I walked into the shop which was full of small wooden jewlery items and some carvings.  A large, short, older lady wearing baggy clothes and messy hair walked out from behind the small room past the counter in the back of the store.
"Yes?" she asked quietly.
"Money exchange, please." I answered, showing her my 20 dollar bill.
She punched numbers into the calculator and began handing me 100, 000 IDR bills. Five of them.  And then 75, 000 more.
I walked out of the store not really sure if I had really seen what I'd seen.  When I entered my favorite furniture and decor store after that, I saw large, beautiful items costing around 400, 000 IDR.  "Wait a second..." I thought.  I then realized that to her calculation, she had actually given me 50 USD worth of money instead of 20.
My mind started to race.  Now I could buy anything I wanted! Maybe I should exchange MORE money because her calculations were off. But, wait, she probably really needs that money.  That 30 USD worth means practically nothing to me, where as for her it could be a month wages.  But, it was her mistake! Why should I care? But, what if she realizes her mistake? Isn't she bound to? What if it's not her shop (which it likely isn't) and she gets punished for not giving me back the right amount? But... but... now I can buy anything I want from the home decor store and it will be like it was free! ... but....
I decided to go back to the hotel room and tell Stuart of my good fortune and have him help me calculate how much the woman should have actually given me so that I could go back and talk to her.
"Well, is your integrity worth a few hundred thousand Indonesian dollars?" Stuart asked me. I knew it wasn't.
I went back to the money changer, who was once again huddled in a small, dark back room by herself in the shop full of wooden jewlery.  She winced as she got up from her plastic chair.
"Yes?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"You gave me too much money." I said.
She didn't quite understand at first.
"You want exchange more money?" she asked.
"No, no. I gave you 20 dollars. You gave me too much." I said and began handing her back hundreds of thousands of IDR.
Her face dropped and her hands were quickly on top of her head.
"Oh, no!" she said.
"It's okay!" I responded. "Here."
I took out the calculator and helped her calculate what I was actually due.
She took 300, 000 IDR and said it was okay if I kept the other extra.  I handed back to her the amount she was rightfully due and told her I didn't need the extra.
"Thank-you. Oh, thank-you." She replied.
Then she wrapped her arms tightly around me with tears in her eyes.
Such a small thing for me was such a big deal for her.

Moral of the story: do the right thing even when you can easily get away with doing the wrong thing.

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