Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Take a quarter, leave a penny.

  1. Oct 27, 2004 #1
    At the convenient store there is a take a penny/leave a penny tray. In it are two quarters. You buy all your stuff but you have only one quarter change, and you really need to make an important phone-call. The nearest payphone is across the street at the gas station and it costs fifty cents. Is it immoral* to take a quarter from the tray to make the call?

    *Immoral: Demonstrating lack of goodness and correctness in action/behavior; not virtuous.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2004 #2

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Since when do people leave quarters in the penny tray? :confused: Do you not understand what purpose the penny tray serves?

    - Warren
     
  4. Oct 27, 2004 #3
    I saw it today, at the cafeteria in my office building. I've seen it before elsewhere too. If you haven't seen it before, just try to visualize two quarters in the tray for the purpose of the question.
     
  5. Oct 27, 2004 #4

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The ostensible purpose of the penny tray is to help people avoid having a pocketful of nearly-worthless pennies.

    I'd say it's not very nice to use the contents of the penny tray for a purpose other that intended. If you empty out the penny tray for your phone call, the guy behind you in line won't get to benefit from it. It's not very courteous. Neither is cutting off other drivers on the road, or playing music too loudly in an apartment. Courtesy and morality are not directly related, though.

    - Warren
     
  6. Oct 27, 2004 #5
    If the intended purpose is to get rid of extra change, then wouldn't taking out any change for any reason be against it's purpose. If the person who left the two quarters just didn't want them, and never cared where they wound up (he could have just as easily thrown them in the sewer) and there is nobody behind me in line, is it still immoral to use the quarter for a phone call? The intended purpose of whoever left the coins is probably to help some stranger he'll never see, and I really need this help to make the phone call (as opposed to paying for my items at this establishment). Does the morality of the action depend on what the coin donor wanted the coins used for?

    I understand that this is not a very high magnitude ethical example, and taking the quarter isn't necessarily a one way ticket to hell, but I've really been thinking all day about how this plays into my concept of morality.
     
  7. Oct 27, 2004 #6
    hmnn

    that would just depend on how "important" the phone call is, also if you had a dollar bill couln't you just ask the guy behind the counter to change it for you?
     
  8. Oct 27, 2004 #7

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    1) The person who discarded the coins DID care where they wound up. That's why they put them in the tray, not in the sewer.

    2) There is always someone behind you in line.

    3) If you really need to make a phone call, why are you buying something at the store in the first place? Use that money for the necessary phone call.

    4) I don't think it's really a moral issue; it's just a courtesy issue. Surely, you wouldn't say a driver is immoral for cutting another off in traffic.

    - Warren
     
  9. Oct 27, 2004 #8
    Let's say the call is really important, and I don't have any dollar bills.

    chroot:

    1)Good Point. Most likely his intention was to help a stranger, right?

    2)Not necesarilly. Maybe the store is going out of business.

    3)I'm buying engine coolant. My low coolant light came on while driving around lost trying to find a specific building for a job interview. I need to call the job prospect and let them know I'll be late because I couldn't find their building, hopefully I can still get the job. If I don't buy the coolant my car could stall, and I would never make it to the interview. After I buy the coolant I have only 25 cents left and I need that other quarter for the call.

    4)I would probably cut people off too driving quickly to get to the interview. It is an issue of courtesy, you're right, but I'll wedge into the lane as quickly as possible and maybe cut someone off, the whole time thinking that my destination is so much more important than the other motorist's, but I'll give that thank you wave and use my turn signal nonetheless.

    Under these circumstances would using the quarter for the phone call be wrong?
     
  10. Oct 27, 2004 #9
    :biggrin: Sure, take the quarter. Its not immoral. Next time you go back to that store just drop twentyfive pennies in that tray. (take a quarter,leave twentyfive pennies).
     
  11. Oct 27, 2004 #10

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If the quarter really comes down to a matter of personal success or massive failure, as in your job interview example, I don't think anyone would think badly of you for taking the quarter. It's obviously a fabricated situation, though. It's not very worthwhile to argue generalities ("is taking a quarter bad?") with extreme examples like that.

    - Warren
     
  12. Oct 28, 2004 #11
    The quarter is a resource avaliable to be used. Will the enjoyment you get from taking the quarter and using it be more than the next person who would've used it, probably. I would discern the taking of the quarter to be a perfectly logical move. Your action was probably a good deed in my mind. What the quarter provided you could result in something bigger, like you being happier, then you could make someone else happy by the contagious nature of your improved mood.

    Perception on the issue using the above logic could vary depending on mathematical perspective.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Take a quarter, leave a penny.
  1. Taking my leave (Replies: 9)

  2. 2005 pennies (Replies: 4)

  3. The Leno Leaving (Replies: 22)

  4. Take leave (Replies: 4)

Loading...