Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finding ethics while waiting tables

Four presidents and many moons ago, I was waiting tables at Perkins. It wasn't enough money to justify the hard work, crazy shifts and idiotic robbers. But once in a great while something profound comes of it.
As I approached a new table of customers to take thier order, I overheard a snippet of conversation.
"...A child's life begins at conception," said a male at the table.
"No," said the female. "The fetus can't function outside the mother's womb until she gives birth to it."
Ah... the 'when does life begin' argument. It's so much more entertaining when the parties involved have had too many beers before debating the finer points of life. Something must have shown on my face, because the female turned to me and said, "What do you think?"
Oh, boy. Think fast kiddo. That's what I get for not having my stone face mask of indifference on. 
I did the only thing I could think of. Raising my hands and shaking my head, I said, "Oh, no no no. Not with my tip on the line." 
This girl was neither drunk or shy. Her co-horts I wasn't so sure about.
"Don't worry about that," she said. "I want to know what you think."
What did I think? I set my order book down. The next words I utter might cost me my job.
I did a quick read of body language at the table. They were more or less sober, dressed in comfortable clothes, apparently not just out from a bible study. None of the clues were there to tell me if they were conservative zealots or not.
The two men on either side of the woman sat in such a way that they sat angled toward her. For her part, the woman sat up straight and leaned forward slightly. She was listening for an answer. The men might not have made up their minds on this particular issue. My gut feeling was they deferred to her. Taking a deep breath, I dove in.
"I will never know what it's like to be a woman. This issue isn't black or white, but rather a subtle shade of gray. The only person who has a say over a woman's body is the woman herself."
The woman was ready for cross exam. "But how do you feel about abortion and when life begins?"
With only a moments hesitation I answered. "When a child takes it's first breath on it's own." A smile crossed her face. Before she could speak, I continued. 
"We have the technology to be able to terminate a pregnancy. What we need to ask ourselves is when and should. Again, this is not a black and white situation. The mother should decide if it's the right thing to do or not for her situation." 
The guys were starting to look upset, so I addressed them. "Abortion should always be the last option. I've known girls who use it as the first option, and I think that's wrong. There are other things out there that could have been done first."
"Condoms:" I continued. "Three minutes of embarrassment at Wal-greens is worth the next 20 years of your life." Eyebrows shot up in surprise, including the guys. 
The pill, IUD's, they even make an injection nowadays."  
"We're talking about choices here. Both men and women need to make honest, responsible choices... and speaking of choices, have you decided what you would like to eat?"
I got a pretty decent tip out of that.

For some time now I've felt that as advanced technologically as we are, mankind is pretty stupid on the moral and ethics part of civilization.
What we need to do is think. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.
You want to have sex? Bring along protection.
I knew a girl who waited tables with me. She told me outright that she figures she's had 7 or 8 abortions. She also admitted she lost count.
That's disgusting.
I don't know what her hangup was, but she needed to get over her aversion to latex or get a prescription, and I told her so. Her classic answer, 'Fuck off', still rings of irony.
In all seriousness now, run a few 'what if?' scenarios in your head.  If your girlfriend informs you she's pregnant, what would you do? If your daughter admits to having a sexual encounter, what would you do?
What ever you decide, make it a better plan then the one you had growing up. 

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