Monday, April 18, 2011

The Day of Ethical Dilemmas

Today, for some reason I was faced with two few ethical dilemmas...

1. A few weeks earlier I helped a customer of ours take care of a bit of an unusual problem helping a patient of the customer get access to the treatment she needed while on vacation in Europe. This took quite the effort in locating a hospital capable of the treatment and then setting everything up before the conditioned worsened. It's not part of my standard work, but I was asked if I could help and did my best, going quite the extra mile. Earlier today the rep in charge of the customer came over with a gift from the patient (who now was back safely in Japan, all recovered) and an envelope with 40,000 yen in cash as thanks from the doctor.

As you can see, this is where the ethical dilemma comes in... Accepting the gift from the patient I don't really have a problem with as it wasn't anything too fancy, but getting cash handed to me from a customer puts me in a bit of a difficult spot since it's part of the job, although not the standard routine. On the other hand, handing the cash back to the customer puts him in an uncomfortable spot as he gave it in good-will and wants to somehow express his thanks for the help I gave him to ensure the health of his patient. I did consider giving the money to charity, but in the last weeks I have actually given a quite considerable amount of money already. After some thought and asking Mrs. Sunshine for advice, I decided to keep the money, but fold it away for drinking sessions with colleagues to at least share it informally internally.

2. Last week I heard that a quite distant acquaintance had suddenly and prematurely passed away, leaving his still young kids and family behind. I knew him from the consulting days when he was in a client company, we got along quite well during the time and stayed in touch through networking sites exchanging the occasional greeting (last time was when he asked if me and the family were ok after the quake). So hearing that he passed away was a bit of a shock and sad news, but I can't say that we were close friends or anything having just met on one occasion several years ago.

Now, I just today discovered that he was still in my "friends" list, apparently his family have not gotten around to closing his account. Now this makes me slightly uncomfortable since it feels wrong to have him in there post mortem. But on the other hand, removing the friendship might be taken the wrong way from the family. I was also thinking to send a condolence message, but it would also feel odd to send that to his account as it still bears his name and I've never been in contact with his family and I'm sure that they have never heard of me. So, in the end, I let things be and will check in a week later to see if there has been any change... This whole Internet thing has made putting the house in order quite difficult.

Sometimes I envy baby Sunshine, she never has any ethical dilemmas like this...


Hanoc said...

The last sentence is just because you have to fullfill some kind of quota I guess.

Oh, and long time reader first time poster. Congratulations on your blog and your solutions to ethical problems.

Chris said...

"Never look a gift horse in the mouth"

I always loved the meaning of that.

You were a good guy. Someone appreciated that. It's not automatic (getting an extra effort from a stranger).

Enjoy some drinks on you ;)

Contamination said...

1. What you should have done with the money is then to turn around and spend 10% of it to buy something for the patient. A return gift will wash away any guilt you feel from recieveing the ¥40,000 and you can spend the rest.

Just a typical part of Japanese culture.

2. I can understand that and there is a solution, but I'm going to post it on my blog next week.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Hanoc - Yep, that last punchline is always the hardest and when out of a good finisher, I could always use the baby I thought ;) Thanks for commenting and always nice to see a new "face" (and a nice one on that, who doesn't love the old invaders?)

Chris - Yeah, but maybe I can get some sales rep to see me as santa claus and have them do petty favors in return so maybe I can turn it to something abusive at some point?

Conta - Well, the gift from the patient was a "return gift" to begin with for the help I gave her and since I've never even met the person I don't want to go into a gift giving battle... This is not really a typical Japanese gift giving situation in any case. I'm curious to hear your solution to my other little dilemma!

Contamination said...

Ah, well that makes sense then...

As for the solution, you might find it a little irreverant. But the person who I've used for doing so always was.

The post is in the buffer and will go out as part of my Friendly Friday series.

BTW, you are now on my blogroll.

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