“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.” — Adam Smith, “Of Sympathy,” The Theory of Moral Sentiments
“We must not draw general conclusions from certain particular principles, though, in the main, true ones. We must not suppose that, because a man is a rational animal, he will therefore always act rationally; or, because he has such or such a predominant passion, that he will act invariably and consequentially in the pursuit of it. No. We are complicated machines: and though we have one main-spring, that gives motion to the whole, we have an infinity of little wheels, which, in their turns, retard, precipitate, and sometimes stop that motion.” — Philip Stanhope, Letters To His Son (1749-12-19)
“We are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question.” — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, Independent Journal (1787-10-27)
“Principles are not less sacred because their duration cannot be guaranteed. Indeed, the very desire for guarantees that our values are eternal and secure in some objective heaven is perhaps only a craving for the certainties of childhood or the absolute values of our primitive past.” — Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty
At first it was just stopped and people were walking.
A few weeks later, the red and white tape went up. It didn’t last long. With the nearest alternative being a car ramp 5 meters further away from the centre’s doors, this was not a surprise. Someone broke through and people went back to walking the escalator.
The shopping centre then put up some wooden panels with a “sorry for the inconvenience” message. These were easily moved. People would move them out of the way to walk the escalator and the staff would put them back in place every week or so.
All this looked like a normal case of an out-of-order escalator. As the months went by, I expected that the shopping centre would make sure that it was back in working order for the 2012 Christmas shopping season. When the shopping season started and the wooden panel game was still continuing, I thought it might be related to all the shopping centre renovations going on in region.
I knew there was something else going on when the metal guard rails went up. These were later accompanied with lots of “No Pedestrians” signs on the car ramp. This hasn’t stopped the pedestrians because the recommended path is another 30+ meter detour.
The passing time, 18 months and counting, plus the efforts that are going into stopping people from walking the escalator says this is more than a simple case of a broken escalator. My theory is that the shopping centre feels that it is the escalator company’s responsibility to fix the problem under a guarantee of some sort and the escalator company is asking to be paid to repair the escalator because the problem is not covered. Perhaps an insurance company is involved. Both sides are sure they are right and they are not budging.
This is their second Christmas season with the escalator broken. They have spent a lot of time and effort to stop people from using it. Many customers are using the car ramp which upsets the customers and drivers. Those that use the recommended path resent the extra distance. Whether or not the shopping centre is right about who has to pay for the repairs, they have let this escalate into a problem that is damaging their reputation.
This is a good example of the costs of pride and principle and very good reminder to myself that there are times it’s better to be pragmatic than right;
“I think all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one’s own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright.” — James Baldwin, Autobiographical Notes