Friday, November 6, 2009


I had to take an ethics class in grad school where we would be presented each day with a situation in which something ethical or unethical had happened or could happen and then we would have to debate whether or not the outcome or potential outcome was "ethical" or "unethical."

For example: "You see a guy come out of a coffee shop and drop a $20 bill on the sidewalk. You pick it up, but before you can give it back to him he gets on a bus, the doors close, and it drives away. What do you do?"

Some potential answers include

"Check inside the coffee shop to see if he is a regular, leave the money with them so they can give it to him next time he comes in."

"Donate the money to charity."

"Eh, you tried. Buy yourself the new Avett Brothers album and a latte."

The best part of the class was when we would argue about what the right answer was, knowing that there really is no right or wrong answer in many of the simpler situations (like the one above). There were only five people in the class, all good friends of mine, so it was kind of fun.

Anyway, I present to you an ethical dilemma I encountered today and you get to duke it out in the comments.

"A woman and child back into a parking space at a Panera. The woman gets out and notices that she has parked with two wheels on one of the parking lines. Since the parking lot is completely empty, with at least two open spaces on each side of her car, and since she is planning to just run in and buy a giant cup of coffee and twelve-hundred calories of delicious sugary goodness, an errand that will take only a few minutes, she decides against reparking the car in a more courteous fashion. Upon returning to the car, goodies and small angry child in hand, she finds that another car has self-righteously parked her medium-sized SUV approximately twelve inches away from hers, despite the two other, equally desirable empty parking spaces, centered perfectly between the guide lines causing me, err 'the woman,' to have to walk sideways to the back door, open the door approximately thirty degrees, wedge the child in sideways, then fasten the carseat straps remotely using two sticks I found nearby."

So class, in this dilemma, who is the giant bitch whose behavior was ethical or unethical and why?


AJU5's Mom said...

So, here is what I conclude:
1. The lady in the SUV has no small children. If she did, she would not park next to another vehicle ebcause she would know it is 10x harder to maneuver kids around with an obstacle next to you.
2. Said lady is lazy and just took the first space she came to.
3. Said lady should have been smart enough to go to the next spot because the probability of getting a ding in her car is fairly high (with or without noticing that the vehicle next to hers had a child seat in it).

Alyssa said...

If it were me in the SUV I'd be pissed that someone parked badly - but I wouldn't take the space next to it if there were others open.

Therefore, women in SUV is a bitch. QED.

Amy said...

First, "fasten the carseat straps remotely using two sticks I found nearby" is the funniest thing I have read all day. I have a mental image if you trying to knit the straps together.

Second, the parking spots at our Panera are all 12 inches apart. It's awful. And there's like 50 spots total so there's always five cars lined up stalking people leaving. It makes me very stabby.

You should have totally keyed the car. How's THAT for ethical?

Chiconky said...

She's totally the bitch, but just wondering why the woman didn't put the angry child in from the other side?

Becca said...


Good idea, but there was a huge Britax Marathon blocking access to the infant seat on the other side (hypothetically, of course).

Sarah said...

What a bitch (not you)! I am a shitty parker, so I am often in another spot b/c I am a bad parker, not necessarily unethical.

Here's my parking peeve: when I am trying to get a thousand shopping bags and two kids in the car and some d-bag sits there with their turn signal on waiting for my space even though there are other empty spaces. Ugh.

sarah said...

Okay, first of all, I took a class like that, too, and I looked forward to it ALL the time! LOL

Now, about the dilemma itself, I am going to say that lady in the SUV who showed up second is a bigger bitch. I get that you, erm, the first lady did a lousy job of parking. Fine. BUT people who need to go about their day "sticking it" to others who dont' perform at 100% are annoying to me.

It's like people on the high way who get into the far left lane and then go the exact speed limit. I GET that I'm not really supposed to be hitting 80 mph on the high way, but those people who cut in front of me and go 55 or 65 just to make sure I obey the speed limit are annoying.

High way and parking lot "vigilantes" are stupid. I dislike them mightily. I would probably have dinged her car as I tried to get into mine (which would automatically make ME the biggest bitch).

A. said...

I, too, took a similar class during grad school. Our department had a professor from another university come in to teach it, and we all thought it quite suspicious that no one at our university was apparently ethical enough to teach the class themselves. Ahem.

Another "all about me" statement - I live in a townhouse neighborhood, and our next door neighbor ALWAYS parks her car right next to the space line, making it virtually impossible for me to get one of my kids (usually the baby) into the carseat. She has no kids herself, so clearly she doesn't know the rule about leaving extra space whenever you see a car with a carseat installed.

Re: who is more ethical. It's been my experience that apparently anything goes as far as parking is concerned - hence the fancy cars that double park just to make sure no one will park near them (annoying!). So for you to park on the line is a minor infraction. And, as I mentioned above, parenthood has given me a new-found appreciation that carseat = LEAVE SOME ROOM. She could have parked anywhere, even if it meant walking a few extra steps. So I don't know who's more ethical, but I'm on your side!

Kyla said...

I wouldn't take the space next to someone too close to the it is on the second vehicle!