Double standards

I was in a cab on the way home.

Suddenly, I was snapped out of my day-dreamy thoughts by a commotion in front of me.

It was on a busy road, at a cross junction beside Sim Lim Tower. A man had stopped his car right in the middle of busy traffic near the traffic light. He was quarreling with an old taxi driver parked to his right.

I didn’t see how the quarrel started, but the man had his arm out his window and was aggressively jabbing at the air towards the taxi driver, all the while yelling something I couldn’t hear. The taxi uncle wasn’t doing anything much except trying to argue back or something, but he looked more shocked than aggressive.

Cars around started horning like crazy because the two cars were blocking everyone. From the looks of it, the taxi driver probably did something to inconvenience or piss off the yelling man.

So the yelling man, in turn, pissed off and inconvenienced all the other drivers around him by stopping in the middle of nowhere to yell and air-jab at a taxi driver.

That’s nice. I like how justice is meted out in the world.

On a kind of similar vein, I also ran into a stupid moral dilemma today.

On my way home earlier, I stopped by the provision shop near my place to get some lunch. I bought three items and was undercharged.

At first, I was a little confused by the price stated on the cash register because it looked kinda cheap. But I have never been good at mental calculation and I sometimes can’t even figure out I’ve been overcharged, much less undercharged. Also, I seldom look at prices when I buy things (bad habit) so I never know how much things cost exactly. So, I didn’t pursue the thought and paid for my purchase.

While walking home, I mulled over it again and it was then that I noticed there was a receipt in the bag. I pulled it out and realised that I hadn’t been charged for my chocolate bar.

“Yay!” was my first thought, “I got a free chocolate bar!”

My second thought was of guilt. Of getting something I didn’t deserve and people suffering for it. I contemplated walking back and paying the balance.

If it had been at a supermarket, I would have done it right away because I know cashiers have to pay for shortages and they don’t earn much as it is. But that was a small provision shop with the owners manning it themselves, so would it hurt them so much to give me a free chocolate bar? Besides, is it my problem that he forgot to key an item in?

So, while I was trying to justify my greed, I arrived home and decided that it was too far to walk back again. But I think maybe I should return the money the next time I go back.

Not that the money is of any consequence to either myself or the provision store owner — it’s only one stupid chooclate bar that costs $1.30. But I like fairness and honesty in the world.

Just because I have been lied to and cheated before, it doesn’t mean I can be justified in doing the same.

Oh, I’m all for vengeance. Even though I believe that revenge is destructive to both parties involved, with no tangible benefits to either, it’s hard to deny the human need to feel vindicated.

But that means I should only take revenge on people who have abused me first. Other people do not deserve to be collateral damage.

The irony is that, I think, it always comes back in a circle. Today, you create collateral damage. Tomorrow, you become someone else’s collateral damage. It’s a neverending cycle.

At the end of the day, the world can never be safe and pleasant.

But don’t think I’m all noble and everything. I’m still tempted to keep my $1.30!