Moral Dilemma for the Day

popcorn_0Today’s moral dilemma is brought to you by Carmike Theaters. Carmike Theaters: We’re a Movie Theater.

The summer after I graduated from high school, I worked at a movie theater called the Carmike in Midlothian, Virginia. I was really looking forward to working there because (a) I love movies and (b) I love popcorn. Both are available in unlimited quantities if you work at a movie theater.

Working at the theater was a summer job for me. It wasn’t pocket cash (I was earning money to pay for room and board at college), but I wasn’t dependent upon my income there. However, for several employees, this was how they made their living.

One such employee–we’ll call him “Michael”–discovered a loophole one day that is the crux of this moral dilemma. I was working concession with Michael during a promotional period where patrons could add on a box of candy for $0.05 to their order if they also purchased a large popcorn and a large drink. Usually a box of candy was $3.50.

The loophole that Michael exposed to me is as follows: He would get a customer who wanted a large popcorn and large drink, and he wouldn’t tell them about the promotion. He would tell them the cost without entering anything in the cash register, and then when they were finished, he would quickly enter the order with the promotional code. He would then add a nickle to the drawer from his pocket and take a box of candy for himself.

I didn’t want to stir up any trouble, but I told Michael I didn’t think that was the intent of the promotion. But he said that technically he was doing nothing wrong–he was spending his nickle to upgrade an order, and he was getting the upgrade (the box of candy). I didn’t want to push the point, so I left it at that.

Obviously it’s not a huge deal. This isn’t grand larceny by any means. But I’m curious what you think–was it my responsibility to tell our boss about Michael? Would you have said anything?