Thursday, May 9, 2013

Untraveled Country

I was sitting here in my apartment, reading Flipboard on my iPad, when I thought I would stand by the window for a while and just look outside and enjoy the slowly unfolding California evening.  I live in a second floor that overlooks a rather quiet residential/apartment street.  As is typical of most streets in apartment complex areas, street parking is at a premium.  I just saw one of the most impressive demonstrations of parallel parking that I've ever seen.  Some lady managed to squeeze here small Toyota in between a car and a truck - with no more then a foot to spare - by carefully jockeying back and forth, inch by inch, and easing it in, all without even touching either car.  I am fairly good at parallel parking, but I never would have tried it. I would have figured it was just not possible. I was wrong.

Other than that though, it has been a rather mundane evening.  I came home, fixed a sandwich, watched a spot of television and then turned it off and decided to spend some time writing and playing on my computer, something I haven't really done much of.  I have quite a few email that I want to send out and I've been putting them off until the time when I felt like I was in a writing mood.  I guess that night is tonight.  I want to get at least one of them out tonight, perhaps more.

Work was fairly ordinary and I did something that I have never done before in the course of my working career. I filed an ethics complaint against someone at work for the way they treated another individual. I agonized over it, but in the end I knew it was the right thing to do.  Whether or not the companies ethic's investigators come to the same conclusion as I did there is no way I could sit there and not report the behavior and look myself in the mirror in the morning. I worried about whether or not to report the behavior, trying to figure out if it really was a violation of the companies ethics code, or whether I was just upset because it was in very bad form and contrary to the way I think people behave.

I refreshed myself on our training and our code of ethics and it is still, in my opinion, a wobbler.  I think it went over the line, I think it was clearly unethical, but I am not sure someone who wasn't there would agree, and I am not sure even some of the people who were there would agree - but in the end, it slowly dawned on me, that it wasn't my duty to figure out if it was or it wasn't.  My obligation was to report what I considered to be unethical behavior and to let the ethics officers sort it out. I hope they come to the same conclusion I did, but I am settled and content that I made the right decision by reporting it.  I will let you all know how it goes as it goes forward, if it goes forward.

It is the first time in my career that I have ever used an ethics hotline, so it is going to be an adventure in an untraveled space for me.  I've been on the other side of many an investigation (as the investigator), so I tried to keep my report as neutral as possible and just report the behavior itself and provide the investigator with a list of potential witnesses.  The behavior took place in front of a very large group so there were multiple witnesses and I while I am sure that many of them came to the same conclusions that I did, I also think that many of them will tuck their heads down and run, pretending to have not seen anything out of that whole gamut of human emotions and tendencies.

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