Fourth precept question

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Rag
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Fourth precept question

Post by Rag »

I work at a very small grocery store. Sometimes I work the register, checking people out. When ringing up alcoholic beverages the computer has a prompt, I believe it just says "birthday" and a text field where I am supposed to input the customer's date of birth in order to ensure that they are over 21 years of age. We have many older customers who are regulars and, typically, employees will just enter their own birthday so as to avoid the hassle of checking the person's ID who they already know to be over 21.

If I were to enter my own birthday when ringing someone else up am a lying? (as it is probably not indeed their birthday).

Perhaps it is permissible simply because no one is being deceived, and deception is not my intention. It would be easy enough to just check everyone's IDs or to ask for their birthday, but in my experience whenever I do this for older customers they become uncomfortable and embarrassed. I also wind up feeling kind of silly. I do not want to estrange our customers.

I know I am being a bit meticulous, but I am curious about what the consensus is on this situation.

santa100
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by santa100 »

Rag wrote:We have many older customers who are regulars and, typically, employees will just enter their own birthday so as to avoid the hassle of checking the person's ID who they already know to be over 21.
Does the computer checkout program validates what's being entered into the birthday text field to conform to a date format, or would it accept "> 21" or "yes", "pass", "approved", etc. as input values? If it has to be a valid date format ( yyyy/mm/dd, dd-MM-yyy, etc. ), then you could try a "signal" value that is still in a valid date format but not your real birthdate, like, the current checkout date minus 22 years, and/or plus/minus 1 month, etc. and stick with that convention for consistency. Of course, don't forget to mention this practice to your supervisor. It should be a win-win since s/he would prefer this approach over having to enter any employee's real birthdate, which is a potential security risk, given all the widespread modern-day system hacking and identity theft that expose people's private infos like their social security number, phone, birthdays, address and stuff...

Rag
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Rag »

santa100 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:15 pm
Rag wrote:We have many older customers who are regulars and, typically, employees will just enter their own birthday so as to avoid the hassle of checking the person's ID who they already know to be over 21.
Does the computer checkout program validates what's being entered into the birthday text field to conform to a date format, or would it accept "> 21" or "yes", "pass", "approved", etc. as input values? If it has to be a valid date format ( yyyy/mm/dd, dd-MM-yyy, etc. ), then you could try a "signal" value that is still in a valid date format but not your real birthdate, like, the current checkout date minus 22 years, and/or plus/minus 1 month, etc. and stick with that convention for consistency. Of course, don't forget to mention this practice to your supervisor. It should be a win-win since s/he would prefer this approach over having to enter any employee's real birthdate, which is a potential security risk, given all the widespread modern-day system hacking and identity theft that expose people's private infos like their social security number, phone, birthdays, address and stuff...
It only accepts a date as in mm/dd/yy. I am quite sure I have entered in a somewhat random date well beyond being 21 years of age at some point when dealing with someone who I know to be of age. The concern remains however, that I am entering a date that is not in fact the customer's birthday.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings Ray,

Your intention isn’t to deceive so I don’t see this as being an issue.
I know I am being a bit meticulous, but I am curious about what the consensus is on this situation.
On the contrary I think it’s good that you are thinking about these things and are taking your sila seriously.

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

santa100
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by santa100 »

Rag wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:29 pm
It only accepts a date as in mm/dd/yy. I am quite sure I have entered in a somewhat random date well beyond being 21 years of age at some point when dealing with someone who I know to be of age. The concern remains however, that I am entering a date that is not in fact the customer's birthday.
I think the "signal date" gives some advantage over the birthdate approach. Firstly, as already mentioned, is prevention of the obvious unnecessary security exposure for hackers to steal peoples' private infos. Second, since it's a "signal" value, if being done in a consistent manner, it's really just a conventional value to fix a computer program's limitation in not allowing the "> 21" signal, combining with the fact that your supervisor's been informed and awared, it'd push the "moral index" closest toward the optimal one (at least higher than the current birthdate approach if we're splitting hairs here). Of course the optimal one is either to ask the customer for their real birthdate, or to send a feature enhancement request to the software engineer who wrote the program to include a new signal value, be it "> 21", "pass", "approved", etc. to account for the case of the customer's obviously older than 21 beyond all doubts.
AN 3.88 wrote:"And what is the training in heightened virtue? There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Pāṭimokkha, consummate in his behavior & sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest fault. This is called the training in heightened virtue".

Rag
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Rag »

Thanks for the replies guys.

:)

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Ceisiwr »

Rag wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:18 am
Thanks for the replies guys.

:)
:thumbsup:
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

To preempt the question: “Does selling alcohol violate the fifth precept?”

It could, but only if you prompt the customer to buy alcohol because you get a cut of the profits.

Trading in alcohol is a wrong livelihood for a Buddhist, but if one is simply working as a cashier in an off-license or supermarket that sells alcohol, then one is not (normally) breaking the fifth precept or earning a wrong livelihood. One gets paid to fill shelves, operate the cash register, watch for shop-lifters, and many other tasks, but does not profit directly from selling alcohol. One is paid to provide a service for the customers.

If you have a choice, do look for a livelihood that helps people in positive ways, e.g. a cashier in a health food store would be a better choice. Working in a bar or an off-license means that one suffers due to associating with fools. That can be a problem anywhere, but you're more likely to get shot in an off-license, or gun store, than in a health-food store, or a care home for the elderly.
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Rag
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Rag »

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:40 am
To preempt the question: “Does selling alcohol violate the fifth precept?”

It could, but only if you prompt the customer to buy alcohol because you get a cut of the profits.

Trading in alcohol is a wrong livelihood for a Buddhist, but if one is simply working as a cashier in an off-license or supermarket that sells alcohol, then one is not (normally) breaking the fifth precept or earning a wrong livelihood. One gets paid to fill shelves, operate the cash register, watch for shop-lifters, and many other tasks, but does not profit directly from selling alcohol. One is paid to provide a service for the customers.

If you have a choice, do look for a livelihood that helps people in positive ways, e.g. a cashier in a health food store would be a better choice. Working in a bar or an off-license means that one suffers due to associating with fools. That can be a problem anywhere, but you're more likely to get shot in an off-license, or gun store, than in a health-food store, or a care home for the elderly.
Thank you Venerable.

Funnily enough the store I work at is a health food store. We have a small selection of beer and wine and I suspect that the justification for carrying those items would appeal to the myth that "a little bit is good for you".

Laurens
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Re: Fourth precept question

Post by Laurens »

I don't think its a problem.

The system exists to prevent underage people form purchasing alcohol (and also yourself from being penalised for selling alcohol to underage people) if someone is clearly over the age of 21 then its unnecessary to ask for their date of birth.

You're not deceiving anybody. It might be worthwhile explaining what you are doing to your management just in case they decide to question why you're entering the same birth date for a lot of customers. But aside from that I don't see an issue with entering in your own date of birth to clear someone who is clearly old enough to buy alcohol. As long as you aren't doing the same for underage people then I wouldn't say its an issue.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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