Business Ethics and Morality: They Just Don’t Mix, or Do They?

May 4, 2008
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Business Ethics and Morality: They Just Don’t Mix, or Do They?

Imagine that the entire world has just placed itself on top of a person’s shoulders. They carry this burden everywhere they go and can’t seem to hide it. As time passes by they continue to slouch even more. At this point they feel the effects of Murphy’s Law because everything that could’ve gone wrong did. As friends and acquaintances let them down, they can’t help but seek for help. This person can’t help but to turn to family, but to a shocking and disturbing awakening, they are not there for them. This happened to my father. At a time when he was closing down his twenty year old business, a heart breaking experience, I was not there physically or emotionally for my father. Not realizing that I had let my father down until many years later, I made it a goal that never again shall I let him down in his time of need. My father had provided for me my entire life. When I was in need he was there every time and now it was my turn. I always regret letting him down when he needed me most.

Coming out of college my father then started working as an electrical engineer in a nationwide company called Electro-fix Inc. He started off with a well paying salary and he was on his way to success. Unfortunately, a year later the company crashed and just like the thousands of workers at the company, my father was laid off. My father decided to persevere in his downfall and as a result open his own company. For some reason my father was attracted to the ethics of car mechanics and slowly upon opening his business he began to learn everything about the beautiful automobile. The company had a great start and a catchy ethnic embracing name: Pronto Tire and Muffler. Just like many companies the success of Pronto Tire and Muffler was dependent upon the customers and satisfaction received with the job done. There was even a point in the year 2001 where my father was doing so well that he was able to open a second location in a higher economic part of the city. To what seemed like a profit and chance for economic gain would soon be the cause of the repercussion that inevitably changed my father’s character to this day.

Having been owner and founder for a business of twenty years caused both my father and my family to become emotionally attached to the company. Even more, because the story behind the starting of the business was so dramatic. To my surprise, my grandfathers were very well off. They were so well off that they were often spoiling my aunts and uncles with several gifts such as cars, houses, money, and business. To an ironic surprise both my parents were the shunned of the family. Of the five children in my mother’s house and the eight in my dad’s both my parents received none of the spoiling. Unlike my uncles, my father paid his way through college and did what none of them had done before: open a business on his own. That’s why when the success of Pronto Tire and Muffler led him to a twenty year roller coaster ride he had become more than just emotionally attached.

Then the burden of carrying the world on top of one’s shoulders, just like Atlas, came upon my father in the year 2004. Having recently opened a new location, my father was unable to realize that the lease on such a large building was exceeding the economic “breaking-point”. My father was left with two decisions: declare bankruptcy or close down the business causing him to slowly pay the debts. Choosing the latter my father was heartbroken at the realization that such a long run was finally coming to a downfall. The burdens of today’s economic world surpass the ink of the paper their written on; rather they change lives within their entirety. I remember sitting in bed one day when my father asked “Will you come help me close” and my selfish response was “I’ll go tomorrow.” Having lost almost everything my father decided to turn to me and my family for help. He turned to us to help him move the machinery, tires, computers, desks, and tons of other heavy objects. Now what seemed like a burden to me of carrying and moving those objects was completely overshadowed by the fact that I was letting my father down.

For an entire week he kept asking for help and surely enough my response was always “I’ll go tomorrow.” The fact that I was thirteen year old teenage boy the only thing on my mind was getting rest and having fun. By leaving my father to carry the entire world on his shoulders I let him down in a way that distrust and betrayal seem to be everywhere people look. Though it has only been three years since, I have come to the realization that the moment my father asked for my help was my calling to prove myself to him. Unfortunately, I never responded in the way my father wanted to and he was left alone to close the entire two locations. My father, being who he is, was humble and quiet, inside I honestly knew that he was disappointed, tired, and betrayed. Somehow, after I betrayed my father I didn’t feel that I was carrying this burden for doing so. This burden didn’t come into play until several years later. One day when my mother and father were arguing over matters I couldn’t help but overhear my dad shout, “How do you think I felt when I closed the business? Nobody helped me not even you or my family! Closing was one of the hardest things for me to do and you somehow you found a way to make it worse! I know now that I can’t count on my family!”

At that moment there was a sudden flashback of events. I remember playing outside of the car-packed store at the small and innocent age of five. I remember trying to be just like dad when I would try and roll the rubber-smelling tires to the customers at the age nine. Finally, I remembered to that dreadful week of closing the now lonely and gloomy stores where not once I showed up. Instead of helping my dad that entire week I did something like go to the movies or just flat out stay home. This led me to do some intense pondering. I was left to think “How could I, of all people, let my father down? I let down the one of the only people in my life that was always been there for me. I need to change this. I need to gain back my father’s trust and respect for me.” It was that exact thought that led me to change and is partly responsible for who I am today.


From then on I could only let time determine the healing effects of our father-son relationship. After spending months of regret there was only one possible option. Make up for what I had done. Proving myself to my father became more important than anything else in the world. I had to rebuild the father-son relationship so that we could both live in harmony with each other. Time could only tell how I was to prove myself to my father. Every time I would espy my father the only thing on my mind would be, “Ask me for help! I’ll help you!” Slowly but surely I gained my fathers confidence and trust. More importantly it was the little things that mattered to him most. Things like getting home on time, waking up early to help him with the yard, and not fighting with my sisters. It was not my acts in so that gained my father’s trust, but more so my persevering effort and constant regret of what I had done. I hate to see an upside for my father’s one-year unemployment, but in fact there was an upside, because he was always home I was able to help around the house. I felt like a Wal-mart employee with a huge blue sweater with the eye-catching text “How can I help you?”

The act that meant the most to my father was my assistance in his search for a new job. My father, being of Mexican decent, grew up speaking only Spanish and as an elder had no knowledge of computer use. This was where my technological and speaking skills came in. On the weekends I would help him search on famous websites like monster.com and elpasotimes.com for jobs and better yet I helped him conclusively write good resumes. My father finally noticed that I was there in his time of need. His son was finally sharing the advantages of knowing how to manage computers and the ability to speak English well. The gloomy and hostile house that was once part of a downgrading family had become a place for hope and fulfillment of a man who once had life at the palm of his hands. As typical as this scenario may be in comparison to The Prodigal Son, my family’s ability to rise up exceeded the norms of the famous Bible tale. Unlike the tale, my family indeed is a minority in a society where prejudice and stereotypes prevail over the benefits of helping each other out. My father also experienced a complete change of culture and was able to adjust to it through my help. In The Prodigal Son the son of the father happily comes home and is forgiven. In my case I had to prove myself to my father after admitting that I had let him down. All of these small situations glorified the meaning of my repentance to my father.
Not being there the first time I made it an obligation and duty help my blood the second. I can’t but help wonder, “Does a supreme being put us on the earth in order to live our lives or to help others live theirs?” Through the disappointment and betrayal I showed at the young age of thirteen I came to realize that if we help ourselves we let others down. We are put on this earth to help those who mean the most to us. For my father business was no longer about Pronto Tire and Muffler, but instead about what his family truly means to him.
Currently my father is working and his rebuttal is ever prevailing through a slow and constant process. At the moment I feel that my way of respecting him and showing gratitude to him is dependent on my focus on school. Attending a private high-school can be economically demanding and I know my father is busting his behind just to have me go there. In gratitude, I join after-school activities and maintain a high grade-point average in order to help me pay for my college. I also let him know whats going on by saying, “Sorry Dad, I tried my best but I couldn’t get the grade.” I may also say, “Dad! I got the honor-roll!” What makes all my hard work worth it though is the two word response I get from him. A response so impacting in my life that the simple words are not as important as the deep life-relieving tone that shows what my father and I have been through together: “Thank-You”


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