Facing Moral Dilemmas at the Car Vacuum
I am not a thief. It might have something to do with financial stability, but I'm not at all interested in taking things that don't belong to me.
Except for when I'm at the car vac.
My morals have been tested at the coin-operated car vacuum machine. It's happened twice. Here's what happened:
1. The Coin Shelf
On the Northeast corner of Watt and Fair Oaks, there is a gas station with a vacuum machine. It is coin operated, but the coin bin is OPEN. The coins drop through the slot, register with the machine and fall exposed onto the bottom of the machine. It is a coin shelf, similar to the payout bin of a slot machine.
Here, I considered my options. I could pay, and take my coins back, or I could leave them on the shelf, an offering to the next pedestrian who walked by. Was this just the easiest way for the owner to make the vacuum machine free?
I've heard that the crime rate goes up when there are easy, valuable opportunities for crime. In this case, the more difficult it was to pay for something, the less likely I was to pay for it.
2. Free Vacuum with Wash
Another vacuum machine, or rather row of vacuum machines, reside at the Quick Quack car wash in Rancho Cordova, CA. These vacuum machines used to be an excellent value with excellent suction, but then they made them free.
Free with car wash, which isn't what I'm interested in, and raises the effective price to $6.
Now it feels like I'm buying a sub sandwich because I'm hungry for the potato chips.
There is no token required. A push button starts the machine, and it is run on the honor system, which is a system which breaks down a lot.
In the first example, the ability to reliably put the money into the hands of the business owner was gone. This made it very likely visitors would steal that service. In the second example, the ability to just pay for what I wanted was removed, but access to it was easier than ever.
Adding to the temptation was the low cost of providing the service. Even if the vacuum is a 2,000 watt monster, it is only going to use 1¢ worth of electricity to power it for three minutes.
Two moral dillemas at these two machines. Educate your children people, because they too will be faced with these challenges to their character.
Be assured that I made the right decision.