So on 10/8 I post something about cheating. Then I discover that my beloved NYTimes had a story on the unexpected “thrill of cheating” on Oct. 8. Check it out at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/in-bad-news-cheating-feels-good/?_r=0
You might also want to check out this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeigel/2013/10/01/alex-rodriguez-lance-armstrong-and-the-surprising-reason-why-people-cheat/
I suppose this is why this column is called “unfinished thinking.” The thinking’s always a work in progress. As unforgiving as I am about cheating, the argument about the psychic rewards of cheating make some sense to me. (Malcolm Gladwell’s argument is silly. His argument is that maybe some of the rules about doping and other things shouldn’t exist. Maybe the rules should be changed, but in the meantime, dems da rules.)
I thought of another time when I cheated. I was once again getting to the airport at the last minute–and every parking space in the long-term lot was full. I had a long-term ticket, but nowhere to put my car. I was driving a big old Jeep Wagoneer. It was easy for me to drive right over the 6-inch concrete barriers between the long-term lot and the short-term lot. That’s what I did. And I probably did it a half dozen more times until my wife, who was amazed that I would do this at all, shamed me into getting back on the right side of the law. I’m such a wimpy do-gooder that this was “breaking bad” for me. And it felt good. Nobody was hurt. The short-term lot was never crowded. Getting away with this felt satisfying. I felt the same way the dozen times in my life when I couldn’t see any cars around and I’d get my car up to 110, maybe 120…before I’d chickened out and slow down to something closer to the speed limit. (Obviously, I never got the Wagoneer up that high. And I do want to say in defense of my manliness that I chickened out not because I was afraid of the speed; I was afraid of getting caught. Is that more manly or less manly? Or just stupid?)
Driving a car that fast is clearly a bigger sin than doping before an athletic competition or cheating on an exam at Harvard. It could be argued that driving 66 in a 65 zone is worse than any of Bernie Madoff’s financial cheats. But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? In fact, it feels like Anthony Weiner’s indiscretions–none of which were illegal–reveal a greater lack of integrity than we showed the last time we let a friend drive himself home after one too many white wines.
This is hurting my head. For the time being, thinking about lying and cheating is going to have to remain unfinished.