Moral Dilemma

You ever find yourself in those tough spots where you REALLY don’t know what the right move is?

On a recent travel, a situation arose in which I really didn’t know what to do. On one hand, I KNEW what the right play was and on the other, my heart kicked in and was arguing with my brain on what I should do.

Imagine you are traveling with your Mrs. You are somewhere far away from home. You wake up, you do your routine and you get ready to head out and start your day. You leave the room together only to realize once you got downstairs you had forgotten something. You go back up to your room — you notice the room door is open and the maid’s cleaning cart is right outside your room so you are aware that she is presently cleaning your room.

Antonio EsfandiariYou walk in as the door happens to be wide-open — you walk past the bathroom and as soon as you enter the main open part of the room, you witness with your very own eyes the maid bent slightly over with your lady’s purse wide-open and her hand IN the purse looking through her items. She sees you see her in this position and immediately drops the purse and begins to panic. How would you feel and what would you do?

It is CLEAR that she is going through the purse. It is not even a question of maybe she was dusting it or cleaning around it. You know exactly what you saw.

Unfortunately, this exact thing recently happened to me. I walked in and could not believe my eyes. I was in a state of shock. Especially given this is supposed to be one of the best hotels in the city. I was FURIOUS. I asked her why she was trying to steal from us. She immediately denied any wrongdoing. Unfortunately for her, she KNEW that I knew what she had been caught doing. Like I said, it wasn’t up for debate. It was clear as day. She knew it. I knew it. And she knew that I knew. Yet, she still maintained her innocence. I picked up the phone and called the front desk and asked to be transferred to security.

While I was on the phone, she started crying and BEGGING me to reconsider. Her energy started shifting and interestingly enough she started to change her innocence plea to guilty. At this point, I really wanted to hear her admit what she had been caught doing. The fact that she was trying to rob us really hurt but the act of denying it was REALLY bothering me. For whatever reason, I wanted to hear it from her mouth. I wanted her to look at me and say “Yes, I tried to steal from you.”

I hung up the phone and kept on conversing with her until she admitted what she had done. Once she admitted her guilt, I started to feel bad for her. This was not a third-world country but certainly a place where people do struggle. I felt bad for her. She probably had kids. She saw an opportunity to make a move and she acted on it.

I often wonder what I would do if I was in a situation in which I almost had no outs? Would I have the moral high standards that I have today? Would I be the same person I am today? Would my word mean as much to me as it does now? What if I was born in Somalia, and had no opportunity? My only chance to break through was to be a pirate and rob ships — would I do it? Probably. I’m quite certain I would be a different person entirely.

She begged me to not report her. She literally got on her knees and pleaded her life to me. She would certainly get fired if I reported her.

I sat down and went into the tank. What is to stop this woman from stealing again in the future? Certainly if she is not stopped, she will do it again. She probably had kids. What would I be doing to her kids if I reported her? I found myself in a very tough spot.

In the end, my heart won the battle over my brain. She admitted her guilt. She promised me she would never do it again (although I obviously did not believe her). I didn’t want her to lose her job but at the same time, I didn’t think letting her walk without some sort of repercussion was right either.

Fortunately for her and the situation, I had a great relationship with the CEO of the property. I trusted this individual and knew his word went a long way. I hunted him down and asked for 10 minutes of his time. Before I told him what happened, I made him give me his word that the person I would speak of would not lose their job. He was a bit anxious at first but agreed that no matter what I told him the job was secure. I explained the situation to him — I felt that not telling him was wrong. He was someone I liked and trusted — not to mention a great operator. It wouldn’t feel right not telling him.  He was quite bothered by this news. As any CEO should be. But — he reassured me that he had given me his word and that she would definitely not lose her job. In my world, all you have is your word. Good enough for me.

Where this happened is not really all that important. All it would do is create additional problems for everyone involved.

The interesting thing is that I HAVE had things go missing in my room before.  However, I have always given the maid service ladies the benefit of the doubt. Never even considered it was them. Perhaps this was a valuable lesson to lock up things of value in the safe moving forward.

Lesson learned.


March 2014