I have a good story and an ethical conundrum for you today.
My father built some of the early radio stations throughout the southeast US in the late forties and early fifties of the last century. He wasn't ever the money guy, just the expert hired help who knew how to set up a radio station, find the right person to put in the electronics, get a guy to build the tower, and then call on all the local businesses to sell ad time on the new station before it went on air.
In the course of working in small towns in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, he met some real characters along the way. One guy he told me about when I was growing up was a man who always dressed very nicely and carried in his wallet only one thing: a one thousand dollar bill. He took my dad out to eat several times in small restaurants and diners and it was only on the second or third occasion that he told my father his special trick.
He never had to pay for a meal. Ever. He had done this for at least a year. He'd go into a local joint, looking like a million dollars in his sharp suit, order a meal, and at the end, when the check came, he'd get out his wallet and open it up, and then exclaim: "Well, my goodness. Would you look at that? All I have is a thousand dollar bill? Can you change it?"
The waitress would be shocked. She'd ogle the bill, and exclaim, "Goodness Gracious!" or some such Southernism, and call the cook, or owner over to see. They'd then continue to exclaim.
The man would be so apologetic. "I usually try to carry something smaller than this! I'm so sorry!" The locals would be simply stunned.
"Is that real?"
"Yes, ma'am, as real as it gets!"
"I've never in my life seen such a thing!" Everyone would examine this rare specimen of US currency. It would be like seeing the Hope Diamond in person. And then whoever was in charge would inevitably say, "Well, it's just a treat and quite an honor to see a greenback like that. I bet you only come across those in New York City or Hollywood!"
"And hardly ever there!" our character would knowingly remark.
"Well, look. Dinner's on the house! We just appreciate you coming in today. I wish my wife was here to see this. It's my treat."
"You don't have to do that."
"Heck. I can't change that anyway. And I'm just pleased to have a fellow like you come into the joint and grab a bite. It's been a great pleasure to meet you and talk to you. Let it be on the house."
"Well, if you insist. That's quite gracious of you. And, next time, I'll try to have a more ordinary collection of bills in my wallet." They'd then shake hands, all around. And the character would leave, with one of the restaurant's mints in his mouth, or a toothpick in his teeth.
Now, the question: Was this guy's action ethical? Was he ethical? Or was what he was doing wrong? Please explain your answer.
I'll have the graded copies back to you next week. Class dismissed.