I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to live to a fairly strict code of behavior.


Dragon-Knights (Photo credit: JimmytheJ)

I don’t cheat.  Not at games, in my relationships, on my taxes, nothing.  I don’t cut corners or try to get away with things.

The reason isn’t that I’m trying to be some fictional knight in a storybook.  It’s been my experience that cutting those corners always seems to be more expensive in the long run, whether it’s fines, lost friends and relationships, or even a general crappiness of life.  The people I know who are always trying to get away with stuff or get ahead at someone else’s expense have the least, whether that’s money, friends, loved ones, or happiness.

Living a noble, honorable life has benefits.  

I don’t pay fines and penalties often.  Just the occasional speeding ticket, but that’s been one in the last 10+ years.  Not getting fined for parking in a handicap spot or cheating on my taxes makes it far easier to save my money and build my wealth than constantly handing money over to the government.  I’ve got a friend who can’t keep himself away from the justice system.  Spending 3 or more months in jail every year makes it hard to keep a job or have a relationship with your family.

My friends know they are my friends.  They can count on me and that means I can count on them.  They also know that if that equation falls out of balance, it will be over.  I only want friends I can count on.  If you can’t have my back, or you feel a need to gossip about my life, I don’t want you in it.

My kids have no insecurities about my love.  They know I am here for them, no matter what happens.  Even if the occasional temper tantrum has them screaming that I clearly hate them, they know better.  They know this father’s love is unconditional.

Work trusts me.  Last year, I basically created the department I work in my telling my boss that I was sure I could make it work.

I have some badass karma.  In general my life if pretty good, and I like to think it’s because I work to be a good person, do good things, and treat the people in my life right.

There are some downsides.   Not everyone lives like this and I have problems relating to them.   I’m not a sympathetic person to someone who tries to duck out on child support or who has to spend 30 days in the workhouse for trying to hock a stolen stereo.  I can come across as a bit self-righteous.

I expect the people in my life to live the same way and treat me the same way.  When that fails to happen, those people are nearly always evicted from life.

Life’s too short for people willing to screw you over.

Sometimes, though, that eviction is too complicated to do quickly, cleanly, or easily.  That’s can be a turmoil in my life, and I hate turmoil.   I don’t normally have to debate the correct course of action.   Something is either right or it’s not.  If it’s not, I know it and it doesn’t get done.   If I have to wonder, then it’s definitely not right.

Every once in a while, I get stuck with a choice between shitty options and that’s where this system fails.   Sometimes, no option is good, right, and proper.  Every choice has a big downside, and none of the choices are clearly right.

That’s turmoil.  Indecisive, emotional, horrible turmoil.

How was your day?

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Don’t Be A Dick

White chocolate is marketed by confectioners a...

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Integrity is what you do when nobody is looking.

Do you cheat at solitaire, steal from an untended garage sale, or keep something a store forgets to charge you for?   If so, integrity may not be your strongest trait.

Similarly, if you let the actions of others dictate your behavior, you may be integrity impaired.

If you get cut off in traffic, do suddenly feel justified in cutting off the next guy?

If you have a dollar stolen from your desk, does that make it okay to take a candy bar from the honor-system candy box?

If the last guy left the water cooler empty, are you going to refuse to refill it the next time you are the one to drink the last drop?

If you’re answering yes to these questions, it may be time to examine your moral code.   Doing the right thing means doing the right thing all of the time.    You can’t be an honorable person if you resort to dishonorable behavior whenever you dislike what someone else does, especially if your actions are hurting an entirely uninvolved 3rd party.

You know the proper behavior.  You know what the ethical choice is.  The fact that someone else made an unethical choice doesn’t give you a license to be a dick.

If it’s your turn to clean the community refrigerator, do it and do it well, even if the last guy did a poor job.

If the last mom driving the car pool showed up late, don’t deliberately forget her kid.

If someone forgot to pay at a group lunch and you covered it, that doesn’t mean you can skip out on the bill next time.

Even if everything else is taken from you, no one can ever steal your ethics, your integrity, or your honor.   Those things are up to you to destroy, and they nearly impossible to replace.

In all cases, in all things, do the right thing.   You won’t be sorry.

Resurrected from the archives.

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The true measure of a man’s integrity is not what he will do, but rather what he won’t do.
-Flannery O’Connor

Have you watched a TV lately? Have you noticed that most sitcoms are based entirely on dishonesty? If the characters would stop lying to each other, the premise of most shows would fall apart. How much humor can be found in getting caught in a lie, week after week? If I lived in one of those homes, there would be a divorce happening immediately.  There’s no integrity in any of the relationships.

Integrity means no lying, cheating, or stealing.  It means you deal with everyone honestly and honorably.  You don’t cheat on your wife, or make BS excuses to your kids.  You have to make sure you have nothing to feel guilty about and expect the same from the people you deal with. It’s not always easy. If a waitress accidentally forgets to ring up a meal, or a store clerk only rings up one DVD, or the scanner borks itself and give an extra 50% off, you speak up, even if it costs $100. That’s honesty.

Ultimately, what you do during the day, you have to sleep with at night. This includes avoiding responsibilities.  Always do what you say, barring forgetfulness, and in that case,  make up for it immediately.  Don’t break promises,  don’t skip out on debts, and don’t get into commitments you have no intention of honoring.

I’ve discovered that the best way to keep your stories straight is to only tell the truth. I don’t have to coordinate an alibi or remember which lie I told to which person if I am honest in all of my dealings. It’s not the easy path. It would be easier to sneak large purchases into the house, or tell my wife I was working late instead of going out for a beer. There are a lot of shortcuts I refuse to take with my life. People act like I’m stupid because I won’t cheat anyone. I enjoy being treated like that, because it means I know who to avoid in the future.  If you break promises, lie, cheat, steal, or skip out on your responsibilities, I don’t want to associate with you.  Honesty is an important part of my life and relationships.  I won’t apologize for that.

What are your core values?

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Inadvertent BOGO

I refuse to buy my kid more expensive video game systems.    He’s got a friend who’s got one of each, going back 15 years.

This is a picture of an XBOX, and its controller.

Image via Wikipedia

We don’t do that, so he’s spent the last 6 months saving to buy his own XBox 360.  After his birthday this month, he finally had enough, so we ordered it a few days ago.

Wednesday was the Great Unboxing.

I was making dinner in the kitchen while the punk and his friend unpacked the box from Amazon.

The squeals were normal.   The shouts of “Dad, why did you buy two XBoxes?” were a surprise.



Actually, yes.   There were two of the things in the box.   Did I order two?  Did I accidentally pay for two?

Nope.  The packing slip only listed one, my order history only showed one, and my credit card was only charged for one.

Yet, there were two in the box.  Free XBox! Woot!

That means an XBox in the bedroom for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, and an XBox in the basement for Madden and Star Wars.    No fighting.  No turns to take.   And it didn’t cost us an extra $200.

That’s all win.

If there’s nothing on the packing slip, then Amazon didn’t know I had it.  Even if they did, I didn’t do anything to make them send it.  There was no fraud.  Legally, I had no obligation of any kind to do anything other than enjoy my new prize.

Lots of win.

The kids were excited.  Everyone gets a turn.  Multiplayer games.

The parents were excited.  We get a turn.  M-rated games.

So much freaking win in that box.


There’s always a but.

We didn’t order it.  We didn’t pay for it.  It wasn’t ours.

A friend told me to sell it.  She knows how hard we’re working to pay off debt.

A coworker said, “Screw them.  They’re just a big corporation who’d be happy to screw you first.”

But it wasn’t ours.

I spent 12 hours trying to rationalize a way to keep it that wouldn’t be unethical, make me feel guilty, or–most important–send a horrible message to my kids.

I couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t ours.

I had a talk with my son.   It was his money that got this little prize into our house, after all.    He wanted to keep it, naturally.  He’s got a lot to learn about persuasion.   He acknowledged that sending it back was the right thing to do.   He agreed that it would suck if the roles were reversed.  His only argument in favor of keeping it was “I want it.”

Even he admitted that was completely lame.

It’s going back.  I let him think that was his decision.

I talked to Amazon.  They apologized for the inconvenience and gave me a UPS label to send it back at no cost.   It didn’t cover pickup, but I’ve got a drop box in my office building, so I can deal with that.

My wife was pissed.   The customer service rep never bothered to say thank you.   She called Amazon to complain to a manager.  After reminding him that we had no duty to return the free XBox, he gave us a $25 gift card to say thank you.

I love my wife.

My son, for deciding to to the right thing, gets to spend the gift card.   My wife, for being awesome, gets to be with me.  I miss my free XBox.

What would you do?  Would you keep the free XBox, sell it, or send it back?

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