I have a confession to make: for two weeks I bought rail tickets to and from work and told the machine I had a Young Person’s Railcard. I noticed that it expired at the beginning of September but since I had no money I was waiting till Pay Day to renew the card. Of course on Friday, even though there’s no ticket barrier at one end and I’ve never had to show my railcard in over a year I got caught at Vauxhall and was pulled aside to pay a £20 fine.
Not the most dangerous or sexy of stories but for me this was a big deal. I never do anything wrong – as a teenager I never bought child tickets instead of adult tickets on the Metrolink in Manchester (even though I look about 12), I hated using fake ID to get into clubs when I was 17 and I recently panicked when a friend used a pass for a free swim twice.
I’m a complete Goody Two-Shoes basically. Not to say I don’t miss a Style & Then Some post occasionally, blag freebies and invites, get trashed on a weekly basis or turn up late to work. But I’m the absolute worst at lying, I don’t smoke, never got a tattoo and haven’t even got my ears pierced because my mother didn’t want to have to deal with infections.
And until now, that’s worked out fine for me. I got good grades at school, sixth form and uni and I’m doing OK at work. I’ve not lost too many friends along the way because I haven’t back-stabbed anyone and I don’t lie awake at night feeling guilty about fleecing anyone out of any money as part of my job.
But then I read a piece in the Evening Standard by Charles Saatchi, taken from his book ‘Be the Worst You Can Be: Life’s Too Long for Patience and Virtue’. It contained some pretty compelling arguments in the ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’ camp – look at the leaders of government and business and it’s pretty obvious they’ve all had to trample on someone else to get to those positions. So what’s the good of being good if no-one notices?
Well, I think Saatchi’s (hopefully) wrong and with the obscene levels of transparency permeating every single industry, the bad guys are being named and shamed: tax avoiding comedians, corrupt bankers, young home-wrecking actresses can’t hide their devilry as easily anymore. It’s how we treat them after the initial expose or confession or apology that makes the difference. And, of course, whether they “get away with it”.
Let us know how much you’re willing to be a bit naughty, I’d love to hear how it works out for both sides.