Ethical question: you make the call!

Long story short: I brought my bike to Beej’s. I have brought it there twice in the past, both times I locked it to the fence on the way in, both times when I came back to it there was a sticker that said “Park this bike in the appropriate place. Don’t park it here.” So today I locked it to the fence again, with a post-it note on it that said “This bike will only be here for about 2 hours. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

About a half hour later, I hear metal breaking, and I look outside, and there’s the security guard, cutting my bike lock. I run outside and stop them from taking my bike away. He gives me a stern talking-to, I protest, but the fact is, my lock is already cut in two pieces. I mean, he gives me my bike back, of course.

Net result: I lose a $20 bike lock.

Here’s the question: what should I do? The way I see it, here are my choices:
1. Do nothing, and get over it, because it’s just a bike lock.
2. Do nothing, but harbor a grudge against the security guard.
3. On the way out, explain that, while rules may be rules, I was disappointed that he couldn’t see above the useless rules to see that I was not hurting anyone and would only be there for a couple hours. Furthermore, I was irritated by the lecture he gave me and the unsympathetic way he dealt with me.
4. On the way out, say the same thing, more forcefully. (Strike this one, it’s not really a good option at all.)
5. File a complaint with Amberson Gardens somehow

The tricky part about this is: I don’t have any ground, legal or moral, to stand on. The reason I parked my bike there was that I figured it didn’t hurt anyone and the guard wouldn’t care, if it was just going to be there for a little while. He did warn me before that I shouldn’t park my bike there.

(however, warning doesn’t make something okay… if I say, I’m going to punch you unless you go away, that doesn’t make it okay for me to punch you.)

Argh! I ended up choosing choice #2, I think, even though I’d like to choose #1. I don’t know if I can do #1. I think the “warning doesn’t make it okay” argument is probably my best moral ground, but it’s crappy legal ground, (not that I’d ever do anything “legal” about this, obviously) because there is some rule about not blocking the way because it’s a safety hazard. What should I have done?


Tyson -

Saying “I’ll punch you in the face if you keep standing here” isn’t the same as “Please don’t park your bike here.” The latter is pointless, yes, but also harmless. Why didn’t you just follow the rules? You knew the security guard was going to be an ass, so why push it?

Anonymous -

DAN. An incident like this happened to me. It was only after the fact that I understood what I should have done. Please, consider the following:

I was waiting for a bus to take me to Geagle from Aaron & Ram’s. It never came. Literally, it never came. This was at 1:30 pm on a Sunday last spring. It never came. By the time I waited and walked there, it was 3:30 pm. On the way back I had ice cream and milk: now I REALLY needed a ride. After waiting 25 minutes a bus finally arrived. I went to get on, when the bus driver yelled at me to get off; my bus pass had apparently expired a few days prior. I said “But–” and he cut me off with a “GIT OFF MY BUS DUMB COLGE STUDNS SICK OF YINZ GITTN ON MY BUS DISIT I’M NOT TAKN YINZ ANYMORE!” And then he was gone, and my ice cream was nothing but a puddle of mint chocolate chip tears on the sidewalk.

Let’s review: I had no argument, because clearly my pass had expired. PAT was in the right, great white satan that it was that day. What then should I have done?
Give him the dollar fifty I had in my pocket?

Get off and say goodbye to my freshly purchased dairy products?

The only suitable response, as I now understand it, would have been to yell: “ANTI-SEMITE!!” as he pulled off. Nazi bastard.

Right. Well, I thank you for considering the following, and I hope you give that kraut guard a piece of your mind.


Unknown -

Sorry, Dan. I think you lose this one.

Amberson Apartments is privately owned. As such, they can make rules about what goes on on their property, such as where to park a bike.

Consider this: Beej has a dog. Amberson doesn’t allow dogs. Really, his having a dog doesn’t hurt anyone - maybe if someone has allergies, maybe the value of his apartment afterwards, but it’d be easy to argue that it’s not harmful. Seeing him with his dog, the security guard warns him twice that having the dog is in violation of the rules. The third time he sees him, what should the security guard do?

I feel like your post-it note might have even added a bit of insult to injury. No security guard wants to find a car parked illegally with a note that says, “It’ll only be here for a few hours!” That’s almost like a note saying, “Suck it, sucka! I’m going to park here whether you like it or not!”

You should have parked your bike elsewhere. The guard probably shouldn’t have been rude to you, but I don’t know how confrontational you were.

Warning does make something OK if you’re playing by someone else’s rules on someone else’s turf. If you’re trespassing on my property, and I say, “Go away or I’ll punch you,” I am then fully within my rights to punch you if you continue to trespass.

Dan -

Right. Sorry, I didn’t mean to make this a question of “whether I was right to put my bike there.” Because, clearly, I wasn’t- no matter how pointless I think their rule is, it is their rule, and they did warn me a couple of times. I meant it to be a question of “given that they cut my bike lock, what do I do now?”

yincrash -

my vote is number 1. especially if you are doing number 2 anyways. there is no reason to harbor ill will over something so trite.

if he was a little rude, whatever. it happens. he has to sit in the gross hot humid summer weather this week in that stinky little hut-shack thing, which i imagine probably evens it out.

i could use having my bike lock cut.

Brian -

1st, I’d like to say that Mike Yin’s post sounds like bathroom talk.

2nd, I am with Scott on this one. I have been known to break a law or two that I didn’t think made sense but a) not in front of a police officer and more importantly b) there is a difference between public laws (i pay money and vote for people to support my opinion to a lawmaking body which tries to govern fairly) and private rules (i own this property, and in the U.S. that’s 9/10ths of the law).

Also, before you get mad at the security guard, think about it from his perspective. He didn’t decide on the bike rule, but he is paid to enforce it. You might not agree with a 3rd party product your boss wants you to use in your code, but after arguing it, you will use it, because he is paying you to. He has no control over the rule, but he has warned you and been polite, and you continue to be stubborn. The more stubborn you got, the more stubborn he got, until neither of you care as much about the bike as the other’s stubbornness.

Just sayin'.

Germit -

What pisses me off is that webster will put a sticker on your bike telling you not to park in front of it, where road signs are public property and they have no right to vandalize your bike in that way. That’s a winning battle legally and morally.

However, you more or less chose to face certain unknown consequences when you continued to park your bike there. You could have brought it into beej’s apartment, you could have asked the security gaurd what rules there were exactly - maybe there is a designated spot. Maybe you’d have to park it on the street by a meter.

Who knows.

I also happen to think that a good deal of what happens to us happens to us because of our own choices, not outside forces like rules and security gaurds. To draw a parallel like “I’ll punch you,” it’s like seeing cars driving down a highway really fast, and then stepping out into them anyway.

Maybe that’s a more accurate parallel?

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