Moral Dilemma

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One of my coworkers was rushing out of work, last Friday, after our

longer day than usual. She was on her cell phone, with her husband

who has a serious form of cancer, has been nearly fatally attacked from

within his body. My coworker’s name is Tina and her husband is Mike.

Sadly, Tina did not slow down as she approached the guard shack. She

saw a truck in the outbound ‘lane’ and went around to the inbound ‘lane.’

Sometimes, if we wait behind our company’s trucks, the security guard

will motion you on past to the left.

Usually, we wait an interminable amount of time, while the guard checks

the paper work, walks with the truck driver to the truck and there is a

procedure that includes looking at the rear latch on the truck, too.

There is a certain process or ‘protocol’ to be followed. I am sympathetic

with Tina, who was in a hurry to get home.

When you hear what action she chose, you may not be so understanding.

Maybe I am too judgmental?

You will have to let me know what you think about what she did. . .

While swerving to the left of the guard shack, without any signal or eye

contact given by the guard, (since an eye witness reported Tina’s actions),

we know that she proceeded to speed past the shack. . .

Just as the guard who had been looking down at the papers, chose

to step out of the little building on the left side!

Tina’s car struck the guard, who shouted (screamed out) in pain!

Tina continued on, heading down our driveway and exited onto the

roads leading towards her home.

Tina has shared with some people at work, that her husband had had

a seizure, that she was very traumatized while on the phone with him.

On this recent Monday, (7/14/14), I was walking towards the break

room, for a much needed respite from work, during our 1/2 hour lunch.

I was following one of our higher up’s, Ted, who was walking with two

police officers. He was leaning into them, quietly talking with them.

When I entered the break room, I looked through the glass, to see Ted

lead the police officers into the conference room, directly across the

hall from where I sit, facing a wall of glass windows. Our table faces

this direction, to watch “our”  daily show, Drew Carey’s “The Price

is Right” show. There are about half the group who face this way, while

the other large screen television presents a sports channel with its

own audience.

For only 20-30 seconds while the door to the conference opened and

then immediately shut as the men passed into the room; I saw Tina

sitting at the conference table.

I had heard different variations of the so-called “accident.”

I had also heard that we were not to discuss this at work, from one of

the uninjured guards. But he whispered the name of the guard who

was hurt, (Joe.) Along with the fact that the guard had called over to

the building’s security guard. Heresay was, he said they would get as

soon as possible a ‘substitute guard,’ to replace him. The warehouse

indoors) security guard was also advising that injured guard to go to

the Emergency Room, as soon as the ‘substitute guard’ arrived.

According to reports passed around, he did go to the Emergency Room,

got X-rays of his torso and hip, prescription for painkillers and he took

the rest of Friday evening through until Tuesday, off on ‘sick leave.’

When my good friends, who have more than a sandwich, sometimes

using the microwaves (not facing the glass window and hallway),

arrived at the table, I told them I saw policeman go into the conference

room, also, Ted and Tina were also inside that room.

Note: There is a back’ door to the conference room, which leads out past

the front of the building which would be a direct exit for the officers and

Tina to leave, if this were to occur. Later in the day, at our second break

on Monday, we agreed that she must have had to go down to the police

station.

We were talking about the situation and 4 of the 6 of my table-mates were

all very sympathetic towards Tina’s mental state and her home situation,

along with the pressure she has endured over the past 12 months.

I and one other ‘parent’ and concerned person for the security guard’s

position were saying we thought immediately of how we would feel so

much differently, if it were our own sons that got hit. Also, how wrong we

felt that Tina left the situation, without finding out how hurt or injured

the man, named Joe, was.

I am not trying to take a poll, nor was I really trying to play “Devil’s

Advocate,” but when I realized that everyone felt strongly in favor of

Tina, regardless of her actions, I held my tongue. The other person,

Jean, who has a son, and I quietly talked after work on Tuesday, when

there were no other people around.

The main reason why Jean and I brought up the subject again, was that

at the morning meeting, we were kind of surprised (shocked!) that Tina

was still among the employed. We have big meetings about Safety. We

are every month evaluated on a ten question or points system ‘review.’

If we have an accident, we are given less points for our review. If we

don’t eventually serve on the Safety Committee, we may never get a

Perfect Points’ evaluation for that criteria.

Our managers, two bosses, (heavy bulk and bins order fillers) did not

say a word. They did not say, “We should not discuss, during work

hours, anything about a legal situation, that is not in our realm of

employment subjects.” (Or some such ‘mumbo-jumbo.’)

My good friends, Tammy and Melvin, were saying during our Tues.

lunch, that they had offered to be ‘character witnesses’ to Tina,

should she be taken to court over her “Hit and Run” situation.

Since this was on our work site, before she had passed out of the

area where the security guard stays in the ‘shack,’ I was expecting

that she would be suspended. But, financially, I do understand that

she and her husband are dependent on her insurance and income.

He has not been employed since over a year ago.

On the other hand, the poor man who was ‘hit’ by the side of her

car, did have bruises and he feels pain in his side, hip and was

limping for the past few days. (I did not see him over the weekend)

Joe did come back to work on Tuesday, to sit inside at the desk,

wave the metal detector “wand” across us, while we pass through

the arch which also detects metal.

Joe, is a retired police officer, who chose to continue working after

62 years of age. He normally greets us, if he is stationed indoors,

with a jovial, “Good Morning!” He has been rather downcast,

depressed and when asked how he is, “Okay,” is his brief reply.

This reminds me of an Ethics course.  Also, most companies include

an ethics test in their employment process. . .

I have presented to you a ‘case.’ If you should wish to ‘weigh in’ on the

‘right’ or ‘wrong’ of this situation or maybe throw your ‘two cents in,’

please feel free to do so!

I like to discuss “moral dilemmas” and values, too, when gathered with

close friends or family.  Do you?

 

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46 responses »

  1. I like to discuss them to, Robin. That’s a tough one to call. On the one hand, I understand Tina’s state of mind was most likely altered and she probably reacted in a way that she normally would not have. The fact that she actually hit a person and left the scene disturbs me greatly. I hope that I would stop and render aid or get help before hurrying on. Who knows?

    • I am so glad you enjoy having moral or ethics discussions! I have been thinking about this, just hope that she would not hit another car, nor a bicyclist… But, while everyone has distractions, hers are serious. I do have sympathy for her, hope that she will be much more careful in the future. Thanks for ‘weighing in!’ Take care, Robin

  2. Robin, my heart goes out to both people involved here. Even if Tina still has a job, her car insurance I’m sure will be altered, and the knowledge of what she did will never go away. Plus she is still facing the dreadful situation at home. And the guard is probably going through post traumatic stress syndrome and may be afraid to do his job, to approach oncoming cars. You may not know about lawsuits that may be pending, and the company may want to ‘settle’ depending on who is being sued. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a lawsuit of some sort about to happen, or already in progress. I think the best thing is to pray for all the people in this situation. We don’t always do our best. And Tina’s post traumatic stress syndrome has probably been going on for 12 months. I surely hope that both of these people, Tina, and the guard, have someone at home to support them emotionally, because they both need it.

    • This was such a lovely and diplomatic thing to say! I appreciate the thoughts that you shared and I agree, both parties have a lot at stake and this can certainly impact the injured party and the one who did not mean to hit him. I did not think of the lawsuit issue, that may be why no one has been fired and no one is really allowed to talk about it at work. Thanks so much for this! Hugs, Robin

  3. Gosh, Robin, I truly feel bad for both parties. It seems like Tina was facing an emergency situation and who knows how anyone of us will react. The fact is, she hit someone and took off….not good. I’m so glad I don’t have to decide on the outcome of this situation.

    • I know I would not wish to be a judge on this case! I appreciate that you are feeling bad for both parties, too. That is the most fair way to handle this situation. I hope that Tina’s husband gets healed, that there will be a miracle, along with the injured Joe, hoping that something doesn’t get internally seriously hurt, since bruising and soreness have to be followed up when it comes to his age and his body. Thanks for this!

  4. My loved one nearly died once due to a seizure. When you experience that kind of stress, you never want to again. Hope they are going to be alright. Take care Robin

  5. i feel bad for everyone in this situation. tina was out of her mind with worry for her husband, and then her actions caused the guard’s loved ones to probably be out of their mind with worry about him. even when in the worst circumstances, i think it’s so important to consider others around you and their well being, just as she wants people who encounter her husband to consider his. i think it would be awful for her to lose her job now with her husband so sick, perhaps she could do some community service by helping out the guard until he gets better, with things that may now be hard for him to do because of the accident. hopefully she could learn from this.

    • This was such a really good idea, Beth! She could offer to help Joe’s family out! I like this solution and it would also keep things status quo with Tina’s job. I don’t wish her fired, but want her to think and be careful. If it had been her family member hit, I am sure she would have been outraged. It is best to stay balanced in a fair and nonjudgmental way on this issue. I am so glad you have suggested this alternative to job loss or possible hefty fines, since she is already struggling financially. Thanks, Beth.

    • No, but some have offered good ideas and solutions. I am glad I have written this, it helps me to put a different set of perspectives into my mind, as I have to sometimes work across from Tina. I would not wish to cause her any more harm or stress… I also hope that there will be some kind of compensation for the retired man, Joe. He is obviously trying to pay his bills, too.

  6. I guess the bottom line is that Tina was wrong on all counts. We don’t know if the security guard will have lingering issues, do we? I understand that Tina’s mind was elsewhere, and I’m not saying to punish her but what happens to the guard now? Is he employed by your company or a guard service, which may or may not offer good health insurance?
    Such a sad state of affairs for both parties.

    • I am thankful for your feeling this way, I was frankly puzzled by my coworkers reaction. I am grateful with the legal world, where most of the time the jury is made of people who are not familiar with the emotional parts of the guilty party. Thanks, Belle!

    • I did not think about his being covered well on his health insurance. Joe’s with a company that is subcontracted out, by Advance Auto, for their security services. I am not sure what kind of insurance they have. I would think, since Tina was in her car, that there may be her car insurance at least paying for his medical bills and possible side effects to his accident. Joe is a frail, thin and tall man, who has a white mustache and a pleasant attitude. He has not tried to discuss this with me, but I have asked, “How’s it going, Joe?” and he says, “Okay.”

  7. What a horrible situation Robin. I hope for all involved that there is healing and resolution. I hope that Tina takes responsibility for her actions, and that there is understanding for what she was going through. Like one of your other commenters said, I would not want to be judge or jury.

    • I have a much more rounded feeling now, since I was at a loss for so much of the sympathy pouring towards Tina. I have been stressed, gone through divorce, my child being ill, my Dad having cancer and having to drive every weekend up to help out. I have always prayed, as I got into my car, when I know my mind is distracted. To give me strength and concentration to keep myself safe and others, too. Colleen, thanks for adding to the interesting responses and supportive comments for both people involved! Hugs, Robin

  8. Tina’s an idiot and a criminal. There’s no excuse for such behavior, and it’s probably due to a steady diet of the idiotic crap we see in movies and TV shows. Characters so “impassioned” that they commit criminal acts. This is what comes from an socio-emotional environment that doesn’t require people to be much better than animals. Humans are supposed to be better than that.

    No, I’m sorry, “I’m distraught” is not an excuse for committing a hit-and-run. There’s no moral or ethical dilemma here. Tina was wrong. Flat dead wrong. Her behavior is inexcusable. They should throw the book at her, although I’d be okay with probation (rather than jail time) given the circumstances and that Joe was apparently not severely injured.

    • I am so surprised at the diversity of opinions on this one! I was rather like you, concerned for any of the people who choose to do this position, which can be rather dangerous, after all, they are ‘guarding’ our workplace! I appreciate the fierceness of your thoughts, feel that it is closer to my immediate response, but am getting ‘softened’ by the impassioned defenses given here for Tina! I will try to stay neutral, as someone said, “Not to judge,” but this is what I was looking for, a ‘jury of my peers!’

      • And to be clear, I would tend towards little or no punishment in this case because Joe wasn’t injured. But I think it’s important to call it what it was and make the point that it is not — under any circumstances — acceptable. (At the very least, Tina should get a “black mark” on her “permanent record”… whatever that means. 🙂 )

        Something to consider about people being carried away by their emotions… if it’s okay for Tina, is it okay for someone who “gets emotional” and abuses their spouse? I would hope the answer is really obvious in that case (“Hell, NO!” in case it wasn’t). Is it really any different for anyone else?

        As humans we are called upon to act, well, human. Our emotions can provide the fuel, but our head needs to do the steering.

      • Don’t worry, I understood, that you feel we need to take our actions seriously. We are more persuaded by our friends, even the media, to lessen the punishment when it comes to people in need, homeless, or having critical illnesses. The list of extenuating circumstances goes on, which means sometimes more leniency, especially when the guilty party ‘owns up’ and makes amends. Truly, this post got really a lot of discussion, which helped me to moderate my own reactions to my coworkers. I talked to Tina today, saying that I had heard her beloved dog had to be put to sleep. I am sorry for the load on her hands. I feel that the ‘laws of the land’ should be abided, despite the surrounding circumstances, though. Thanks so much for this point of view, further explanation was good to help clarify your perspective.

      • On top of everything else, losing your beloved dog… that really does suck. Life sure does deal crappy hands sometimes. I knew a gal at work — young gal, in her 20s — whose nine-year-old was diagnosed with brain cancer (which is a death sentence). During the 18 months of that, her husband died suddenly, unexpectedly, of a bad asthma attack. And she was pregnant with child #3.

        Talk about it not raining, but pouring!

        (The story ended about as good as possible. After a couple of years she met a really nice guy and re-married and was going great last time I spoke with her. Sometimes the sun really does come out after a storm.)

  9. Tina did not make a good decision to swerve out of the lane, to go through at speed without being sure and to not stop once she had hit someone. She is at fault, but no automatic penalties need accrue since Joe was not killed. I do think she owes some reparation for acting recklessly, perhaps she can work out something with Joe or the DA if she’s charged. Beth’s idea of community service or aid to Joe’s family is a good one. Poor Joe, I hope he will recover completely. Sometimes people have pain for years after something like that.

    • I like how you were good at staying ‘impartial,’ Brenda! I realize that Joe did not die, so I am glad for this. I am also interested in how many different answers or responses I am getting! It is truly a study of humanity and makes you wonder how people can serve fairly on juries, too!
      I have sometimes been the one in the jury room, taking the opposite part in the debate, Brenda! I am not sure if it is due to my parents playing, “devil’s advocate,” or because of my experiences in the legal world as the child advocate at the Lighthouse battered women’s shelter? Interesting and fascinating answers abound here! Smiles, Robin

  10. Robin, I have strong feelings both for and against Tina…sympathy for her situation but disgust for her response.
    A college friend at our 10th reunion received a frantic call from the babysitter at the hotel that her 3-year-old had a seizure and was unresponsive and they’d called for an ambulance. My friend went running out to her car to drive the 5 blocks to the hotel–which all of us could understand–but fortunately, one of the others got to the car first, wrangled the keys away and drove her.
    He probably saved her–and others on the road–and they arrived right after the ambulance. All turned out well.
    Tina’s panic is understandable, but her behavior is unacceptable. She’s going through a very difficult time, but her troubles do no override her responsibility. Hit and run is horrendous; her license should be taken away, at the very least, and the other suggestions of making restitution and doing community service are additional considerations…not either/or, but both.

    • Thank you, Marylin! I loved how you stayed ‘true’ to your beliefs. You did not budge from the fact someone needs to be responsible, if they choose to get behind the wheel. Much more damage could be done, as you noted, the person who wrangled the keys out of the upset and frantic mother’s fingers. That saved another potential disaster! I do feel sympathy and don’t wish her to lose her job. I am sure she could get rides to work, if she needed to, since she is well liked. I think, by all of the readers here, not knowing her, makes it a little easier to decide Tina’s fate. I have mentioned to my children, all adults and two of three parents, that they need to be responsible, while driving. If the children are truly distracting you, I told them, pull over. Give a lecture, do what my Dad did, yanked us out and made us sit in the grass beyond the road. Thinking about how we needed to ‘get along!’ Smiles, Robin

  11. The first take-away from this situation is that people, like Tina, should not get behind the wheel of an automobile when they are under stress. A vehicle is every bit as lethal as a loaded gun. She was wrong to not seek assistance from a manager or a friend. Unfortunately, there is no way to undo the harm she caused to the gate guard, and there are consequences to her actions.

    Tina may have made her husband’s situation worse, especially if she loses her job and with it, her health care coverage and her income. Worse yet, she must live with the memory of her actions for the rest of life, assuming she has a conscience.

    • I know that the situation was a serious one, whether anyone died or not. The act of hitting and leaving the scene of an accident, is just not legal. It is not what we teach in Driver’s Ed. The home situation is one, where maybe since Tina is often distraught, she should ‘hitch’ rides from friends.
      I kept thinking about my own life, where I was sometimes a single mother with 3 children, a lot on ‘my plate,’ and how I had to handle it with the safety of my children within the car, and the safety of others on the road. It is not the same, I did not have dire straits, but I feel that being responsible is important quality for driving.
      We took my Mom’s car keys away, almost one year still left on her license, when we realized she might endanger others, since her short term memory was going fast!
      I honestly hope Tina and her family will ‘rise to the occasion,’ despite how it all turns out. I will keep them in my prayers, as I do Joe, now. He is a sweet, elderly man who I hope will put the bar down on the left side of the guard shack when he is examining the outgoing truck’s paperwork. There may be others who don’t realize there are rules to staying on the right side, as you exit our work place! Tina could have run into an incoming car! When a truck is in the slot it was in, the people leaving work have to wait for the guard to look ahead and see down the driveway, then motion them on by. Only after he (or she) motions, are you supposed to go on through!

  12. This is a dreadful situation for everyone involved. The first and foremost rule of thumb is NOT to judge. One of the saddest things us mere humans do is to assume what we would feel like or that we ‘understand’ a particular situation without ever living one day in someone else’s shoes. It seems as if Tina was in shock after hearing the news of her husband’s condition. We all respond differently to crisis situations. Perhaps she thought her husband might die. While it does NOT excuse her harming another person it does speak to when the human mind goes into fight or flight mode – they are not always rational. If it were me who was deciding what to do 1) Tina would keep her job 2) she wold apologize to the person she hit 3) they would, each, spend time helping one another so as to better understand each other’s life situation and causes. Truly Understanding and forgiving is paramount for a healty existence. That’s all! hugs ~Karen~

    • I value your opinion, Karen. I appreciate these thoughtful comments, too. I am thankful for the conversation here. I was hoping that most people would remember the 70’s where values clarification courses abounded, where people would listen or read about a situation and then, give what consequences or actions should be made.
      When my Dad was dying of cancer, my Mom would make little bits of food, giving them to him like he was a tiny bird. Chemo does this to the appetite. Tina’s husband gets nauseous and feels ‘faint’ often, she says he thinks he is going into seizures. He did not have any harm come to him that day, she raced home to make him a power shake, which would give him some energy. I told her that my Dad hated Ensure but loved the different diet shakes. that are on the market. They have nutritional supplements and enzymes in them, to fortify people who are giving up their meals. It turns out the flavors are so much more tasty. My Mom would use a blender with added ice and milk, which I shared this with Tina, too.
      I watch a great television show this summer called, “Motive.” My coworker friends are still addicts of “Judge Judy.” I did not mean for this to be a session of ‘judging’ but of trying to figure out how we would make decisions to help both parties involved. Your suggestion of having the two parties get together and try to understand each other was a marvelous solution that shows what kind of great heart you have! Smiles and hugs, Robin

      • I think assuming to understand someone else’s situation is one of the saddest thing that human beings do to each other. It was a great discussion, though and I hope that everyone is doing better, Robin. So sorry about your Dad. hugs and love. ~Karen~

  13. It seems that most folks at work are willing to give Tina the benefit of the doubt. But it should not resolve her responsibility for hitting the guard. Given her circumstances, perhaps paying half his medical expenses and keeping her job…plus whatever penalty is assigned by the courts…would be sufficient?

    • I am so glad you ‘weighed in’ here with an opinion, Jonathan! After all, we all can say our peace, piece too! I think your solution is very equitable and fair. You have a kind heart and I love the way you answered this one! Thanks!

    • Thank you, Kate for your honest answer. I went through my comments, trying to change my mind and sympathize with Tina. I appreciate that you were thinking along the lines that I was… what if it had been she who got the call that someone she knew had to go to the hospital due to a person injuring her family member? I guess trauma and other things on our minds can do this, but I agree. We must not use a vehicle if we are distraught. It is so dangerous! Hope that you have a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day weekend! I was looking in my ‘waiting moderation’ section and feel bad that you did not get an immediate response, Kate. So sorry about this!

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