Saturday, November 27, 2004

self-centered fear

So I was beyond tired this morning. At work before dawn, I was injecting myself with as much caffeine as I could get my hands on in an attempt to shake off a grogginess induced by weeks of sleep deprivation and overwork. I was also particularly irritated at the time; the boss had loaded me up with enough work to keep me hurrying until well after dark.

Later that morning, still incredibly irritated and groggy, I swipe a yard lamp with my work truck. The lamp's not a pretty thing; it's maybe $20 brand new, and it's far from brand new. It probably couldn't have been given away even before I hit it. Still groggy, and more irritated still, I hop out of the truck and check the thing out. It appears that it may be broken -- still functional, but something about it looks wrong, as if a part was maybe snapped off. I glance around briefly for something that looks like it could be a piece. Not finding it, I set it upright, hop back into the truck, and drive off.

As I drive the next couple of blocks down the road, it starts to sink in what I just did.

I start looking at the yards I pass until I spot one with the same type of yard lamp. I look at it... and sure enough, it has a piece the one I hit didn't.

Now I'm starting to panic. What I just did (driving off after hitting it) is probably enough to get me fired or arrested or both. But is it enough if I did no damage? But now I'm starting to think I did damage it. Should I go see if someone is home to tell them? In which case, I'll have to tell work as well -- even if I come to find it was already broken. Also in that case, my day is fucked, work will think I'm incompetent, and -- worst of all -- I'd have to admit that I drove off before driving back to admit to it. I could tell them what was partly the truth -- that I couldn't find any evidence that I had damaged it just then, until I spotted a similar item -- but still, I was worried that even that would be enough to get me arrested/fired.

Head spinning, not knowing what else to do, I drive past the lawn in question. Sure enough, it's missing a piece. I try to nonchalantly scan the yard for the piece (maybe I'd try to fix it?). I see nothing, but it could be hiding anywhere in the grass. I drive off.

I decide to do nothing. My head starts reeling further. My stomach turns sour. My mood darkens even even more. Obviously, I'm far from a great person, but this is the first time in a long time -- since I've been sober, almost -- that I can remember doing anything that is indisputably against my morals/society's morals. Basically, I stole something because I didn't want to face the consequences of my mildly negligent driving ( this was actually minor accident number 3 since I started working for this company; the others I 'fessed up to, but in retrospect I see that I had to).

About a half hour later, I decide to go back and tell the truth. Then I clam up again... I see it all unfold in my head... a whole lot of drama, and for what? Should I totally screw everything I have up just for this? No, I decide, and I leave the area for the next jobsite.

.... This has been gnawing at me hard all day long. Somewhere along the line I decided to donate the money I made today to charity (about $200) for utilitarian ethical and karmic reasons. I did so earlier online.

Utilitarianism be damned, I feel like shit. I am a liar and a coward and a thief.


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