5. Is it okay to stretch the truth on your taxes? For example, a home office that also acts as a playroom, or a business trip that mixed in pleasure?
Yes with Reservations: 4
Not Sure (I Don’t Do My Own Taxes): 4
No Answer (Big Brother Is Watching): 1
The overwhelming feeling from the “yes” crowd here seemed to be “damn The Man.” One artist’s rep said, “Yes, considering how much the government stretches the truth on where that money goes.” His contempt was not unique. Those who said “no” or expressed reservations seemed motivated mostly by fear of being audited, rather than by a sense of morality. One respondent noted that she felt it was acceptable for her, but not for those in higher tax brackets: “I’d be [mad] if Bill Gates claims his yacht for business purposes.”
6. Is it okay to take a free sample of something, even though you know you won’t buy it?
Unequivocally, the answer was “yes.” “Are there actually people out there who feel guilty after taking something that was given to them free of charge? Please tell me they’re not reproducing,” said one respondent.
7. Your hairdresser, doctor, or dentist is fully booked for two weeks. Is it okay to see someone else?
Yes with Reservations: 5
This one was clear-cut: the individual’s needs came before professional loyalty. Any reservations stemmed from personal preference, rather than from ethical obligation, and had to do with the inconvenience of locating a new provider or a lack of trust in the untested. While one respondent did stress the importance of supporting businesses you frequent, a doctor also put things into perspective: “If [someone is] booked solidly for two weeks, then it won’t hurt [him or her],” she said.
8. The food at a restaurant is less than stellar. Do you let it affect your tip for the waitress?
Yes with Reservations: 1
Another apparent no-brainer. Most people said no. Caroline, an event coordinator and restaurant alum, adamantly explained, “No. She did not cook it. The tip does not go to the kitchen at all. However, I would politely let the server know that the food was not wonderful.”
9. You wear a new shirt once and decide you don’t like it. Is it okay to return it—even though it’s been worn?
Yes with Reservations: 4
Surprisingly, this was the most divisive question in the survey. Some of the answers: “Depends on where I got it”; “That’s what consignment is for”; “I’ve done this before, but always feel really bad about it”; “You try it on, you buy it, you own it.” Two friends who have worked in a clothing store responded with a resounding “no,” while another said, “We know this happens. As long as the shirt is clean, it’s fine. Clothes in stores have been tried on by dozens of people before being bought.” It seems a definitive answer is still up in the air.
10. You’re about to serve food to guests at a dinner party, and you drop a serving or two on the floor. It’s salvageable, and no one sees. Do you still serve it?
Yes with Reservations: 7
Great minds must have thought alike on this question, because two respondents answered with “God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt”; two said it was all right if you ate it yourself; and two claimed the five-second rule. Those who answered “gross” will likely press me for the names of those who said yes, but, in an effort to be ethical, my lips are sealed.
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