Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 11:01 PM
This past Sunday I drove to Philly from New York and was 4 blocks away from my destination: The Counselors of Real Estate Conference. As I passed through the intersection at 15th Street and Vine, a young kid blew through a red light and hit my car hard without warning and then ran into an SUV.
My car was rocked and I had no idea what happened. I pulled over, numb and saw the two other cars in the intersection. I scrambled out of my car and called 911 for help. The other cars were able to limp out of the intersection to safety. No one was hurt but I’ll spare all the details.
And then something happened that I hadn’t expected.
The kid driving one of the cars came up to me and apologized profusely – he was talking to his brother and friend in his car and wasn’t paying attention. He turned away from the road and when he turned back, he hit my car. If I had entered the intersection less than a second later, he would have t-boned me at 45 mph instead of shearing off my bumper and I probably wouldn’t be typing this post.
His honesty cleared the air and made all three of us with damaged cars actually relax despite the stress of the situation. We ended up chatting sports, etc. for the next few hours as the state and city police tried to figure out who had jurisdiction at the intersection.
Porsche: There is no substitute.
The fact that this happened (it was the first time a car I was driving was hit by another car) was especially ironic because I was on an ethics panel discussion at the CRE conference the following day. Not the “how do I not get in trouble” ethics, but rather the “how do I be a better professional” ethics.
Business ethics remain a challenge in todays post-credit crunch meltdown. Anyone that lived through the credit boom and its “flexible morality” is probably involved in rebuilding the system (a scary thought) – but hopefully with better values (no pun intended).
The recent mortgage debacle is an example of the moral flexibility rampant in our financial services industry – surprisingly, much of that flexibility seems to be on temporary hiatus rather than a structural change.
Here’s a new one:
Honesty: There is no substitute.