Sunday, September 27, 2015

Leave your route cleaner than it was when you began your journey

Several months ago, I wrote about a reader who wondered what her responsibility was when she and her partner were out for a walk when they came upon a woman walking her dog. The dog owner asked the couple if they happened to have any plastic bags on them, presumably to help her clean up after her dog. The reader told the woman they didn't have any bags, but that there were some city-provided waste bags about 100 yards away.

When the couple made a loop around their neighborhood and came upon the same spot where they encountered the dog owner, they noted she was gone but the waste was not. I had argued that it was not the couple's responsibility to clean up after the dog and the right thing was for the dog owner to have carried her own plastic bags or made the effort to get one the couple pointed out to her.

R.N. of Chillicothe, Ohio, believes the couple should have done more. When they "circled back and saw the owner's dog deposit," he writes, "they should have gotten a plastic bag and picked up the mess."

The incident reminded R.N. of a bicycle ride he made with a cycling group in a nearby state park. At the top of a hill, at a dead end in the road, R.N. writes that there were remnants of a fire with associated trash, empty beer cans, cigarette pack, cigarette butts, and an empty deodorant stick.

"Several people lamented the trash," he writes "but no one picked it up or mentioned picking it up even though several riders had large saddle bags."

R.N. did not think he had room in his jersey pocket and he said nothing to the other riders. "I should have picked up something and said something," he writes, citing a saying from his backpacking days that you should always come out of the woods with more than you brought in. "It is the right thing to do."

R.N.'s point is well taken. I'm sure I'm not the only person to spend time picking up litter (empty bottles, paper bags, assorted items tossed from car windows) from the street in my neighborhood and tossing it into a waste can on my walk to work. Indeed, on other bicycle rides, R.N. has taken the time to slow down his ride and remove trash from the road.

It is the right thing to want to take pride in your environment, but on a more practical note, when you live in the city like I do, to remove anything that might attract unwanted vermin.

When it comes to a pet dog's waste, however, the responsibility for tidying up is still the dog's owner responsibility. There should be no expectation that neighbors will be or should be willing to pick it up.

The right thing is for dog owners to be responsible and clean up after their own pets. If they forget to bring a plastic bag with them on their walks, then they should take the time to return to the scene to clean up. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Do concerns about a child's online profile require action?

Seventy-one percent of U.S. teenagers 13- to 17-years-old use Facebook according to a 2015 study on "Teens, Social Media &Technology," conducted by the Pew Research Center. Twenty-four percent of teenagers say they are online "almost constantly."

But the fastest growing segment of Facebook users, according to Pew, is older adults. It's not unusual then for older adults to come across something on Facebook that might look a bit hinky as it relates to a young person they know.

A reader in the Midwest, E.K., writes that she used to work in a cubicle across from a guy with whom she would "occasionally banter a bit." While they were working together, the fellow's wife had a baby girl. Eventually, he became a stay-at-home dad and his wife became the "breadwinner" for the family.

That was 15 or so years ago. E.K. and her former colleague keep in touch as friends on Facebook.

Several months ago, the former colleague posted a photo of his daughter and wrote that she now wanted to be known by a new name. The new name was a shortened version of the name given her at birth, but wasn't gender specific.

"My friend has posted many photos of his daughter and family photos since," E.K. writes.

Recently, when E.K. was looking at her Facebook timeline, the "people you may know" section caught her attention. In the group was one of the photos of E.K.'s friend's daughter with the correct last name but with a different first name from her given name or the shortened name.

Because she recognized the photo, E.K. looked at the profile. Other than that the person is "male," there was nothing. No "friends" or any interests or location information.

E.K. is concerned that this may be a fake profile and that her friend's daughter may be being set up by other people to be "catfished" or otherwise embarrassed. (Catfishing someone is enticing them into a relationship after creating a fake online identity).

"She goes to an all-girls school and I know how kids can be at that age," writes E.K.

Now, she wonders whether she should contact her friend through a private message and tell him what she's seen and her concerns or just stay out of it.

What is the right thing to do?" she asks.

The daughter could very well have a Facebook page and set her settings to private so no one else could see her interests or list of friends. It could be that nothing terrible is going on here.

But if E.K. is concerned, then the right thing to do is to private message her friend and tell him exactly how she came across the profile. She can express her concern or simply tell him she was surprised to come across it and leave it at that.

Because the friend's child is a minor, E.K.'s concerns about her safety outweigh any hesitation she might have in alerting the friend. She wouldn't be outing the daughter since the father already seems aware of his daughter's preferences.

It may be that there is nothing nefarious about the page. But if E.K.'s alert can thwart off embarrassment or worse for the friend's daughter, then letting him know about it is the right thing to do. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Who's responsible when customers pig out on a sale?

How good a neighbor does a neighbor need to be?

A friend of R.H. "gleefully" posted to her that she saved $169 on a pork roast special price of 69 cents a pound, only spending $36 for several roasts that at full price would have cost her more than $200.

"Lucky you," R.H. told her friend, but then pointed out that the circular she had seen for the same grocer's special specified a limit of two pork roasts per customer at the 69 cent per pound sale price.

The neighbor told R.H. that she hadn't noticed that limit until R.H. pointed it out.

R.H. told her neighbor that she got a great deal because neither the clerk nor the "fancy computerized cash register" point-of-sale (POS) system caught the error.

But R.H. writes that her conscience tells her she should contact the local supermarket chain about the programming error in its POS register.

While the supermarket chain has stores in two states, R.H. observes that its slogan is something along the lines of "your neighborhood store."

"I try to be a good neighbor," writes R.H. So she wonders if she should contact the store so it can correct its error.

Since the sales change week to week, it's likely that the sales price will no longer be in effect by the time R.H. contacts the store. But her intentions are good.

If she believes there is an error, then she has a few choices. One would be to rush to the store and load up on pork roast at the special price. She might stock up on enough at 69 cents a pound to last her a year.

But that would be wrong.

The right thing would be for R.H. to notify the store of the error and hope that the managers would work to correct it. In pre-computerized-sales-register days, an alert cashier might have caught the error and only rung up two at the special price, or might have pointed out to R.H.'s friend that there was a limit on the sale.

Now, that most supermarket chains use POS systems, the prices ring up automatically when scanned at the register.

If R.H.'s friend knew about the limit of two pork roasts per customer at the special price and had said nothing that would have been wrong. Some stores, however, have a policy that if a lower price is charged after an item is scanned; the store will honor that price.

It's the responsibility of the store to make sure it is charging its customers the right advertised prices for the items they buy.

R.H.'s friend can rest with a clear conscience if she didn't know she was being offered something beyond what was advertised. She needn't rush to the store and return all but two of her pork roasts. (And needn't the other customers who might have unknowingly received the pork deal of the decade.)

While it's not R.H.'s business to tattle on one particular neighbor, her desire to do right by her neighborhood market is well placed. But ultimately, the right thing is for the supermarket management to make sure that it has taken the time to properly code its items and neither over- or undercharge its customers. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

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