I made a trip to Lynchburg with one of the boys in my house last night to just hang out for a while and I left it completely up to him as to where we would go. Should be fun. Knowing the resident, I anticipated a restaurant and the mall. He did not disappoint. We ate at Golden Corral and then went to the mall to do a little shopping. His third choice for the night came as a bit of a surprise.
He decided that we should go play laser tag at Funquest. For those of you who are not familiar (probably all of you), Funquest is a skating rink that has a handful of other things available as well. They have a playland for smaller kids. They have a food court where you can get pizza and drinks as well as a few other items. They have an arcade where you can waste your money getting tickets that you can redeem for items that are far less valuable than what you paid for the tokens. And, they have laser tag, which is what we were there for.
So, the place was packed wall to wall and the game that we signed up for would take 45 minutes of waiting in order to play. We originally were planning to play two games each but traded one of our games in for some arcade tokens. There was a basketball game in the back of the arcade so we took turns playing it and attempting to beat each other’s scores. As we finished each game, the machine would spit out a
As we finished each game, the machine would spit out a bundle of tickets and by the time we used all of our tokens, there was a pretty nice collection of tickets but not enough to really be worth cashing them in at the counter. We still had quite a bit of time left before our game started and this is where our evening changed from gaming to a bit of a social experiment.
We began breaking up our ticket strands into shorter bundles and started leaving them in random places around the arcade to see what people would do when they found them. I broke my tickets up into 15 separate bundles and left them lying on some of the machines. He left his in larger bundles but just sat them on the ground by some of the machines. In every single instance, someone would pick them up and claim them as their own.
We discussed this as we watched it and established that picking up tickets off the ground is not quite the same as stealing them out of someone’s pocket or purse. However, each person would still look around first before picking them up. They knew that those tickets did not belong to them but chose to take them anyways. This was going on with kids ranging from 3 or 4 all the way up to teenagers.
I had begun having a conversation about this with another person who was waiting on laser tag and had made the comment about how it was only children picking up the tickets. My assumption was that children did not have the reservation that an adult might have about taking something that did not belong to them. As I was saying that, the machine that was direct across from me was approached by an elderly couple.
They put in their tokens and played a few games. I had noticed that the female in the couple had pointed to the tickets that I left laying on top of the machine but the seemed to ignore them while the game was going. A couple of minutes passed and they finished the game. The man reached down and took the tickets that they had won and began to walk away.
His wife turned to leave with him but then paused. She turned back around and grabbed my tickets and quickly put them in her pocket before joining her husband. I just laughed to myself.
When people think they’re not being watched, they will act just like their children. It is no wonder that the children of our society behave the way they do. Just look at the model that we give them. After all, our kids will become whatever we teach them. If we tell them no and teach them what is right, they are more apt to develop that way. However, if we cannot even seem to get it right ourselves, who knows?