A Very Unique Scenario for "Miss Manners"...

I can’t help it! I absolutely have to share this!! This is so similar, yet SO DIFFERENT, to all the office politics and rude coworker stories you guys always have. The question for Miss Manners today is, “Who pays the informant??”
Yesterday, when our convoy was returning from the DMZ, my Ruck Sack fell out of the trailer. Now, just to make things clear:
This convoy was only a couple LMTVs. The First Sergeant sent (or tried to send) all the nonmounted soldiers back early. There wasn’t room for everyone though, so me and a couple other squad leaders stayed behind to ride back with the main effort. We can only drive the tanks and Bradleys after it gets dark. Because of running over kids and stuff - I’m sure most of you are familiar with certain accidents over the past few years.
Anyway, so I was not with that group. But my equipment was sent ahead. Some random soldier took my ruck and threw it on the trailer.

For whatever reason, the ruck fell from the trailer into the middle of the street on the way back to base. Soldiers in the back of the LMTV saw this immediately and started yelling to get the driver to stop. By the time he stopped and went back, some lady had already grabbed the Ruck and ran off with the equipment!!! (Damn Scavengers!!)
An LT and a SPC got out in the area to see if they could recover the stuff. A man ran up to them and pointed out which house the theif ran into. This informant was just pissed because he didn’t get to the gear first. So he figured “If I can’t have it, no one can!” Apparantly the two were seen arguing over the ruck briefly before the one lady -the victor- ran off with the spoils.

So anyway, the LT and the SPC went into the house. Two ladies and one man were standing around a very neatly laid out display of all my gear. In under five minutes, my ruck was taken inside and everything had been inventoried and neatly organized as if awaiting a military inspection. Everything was recovered and (because I am so squared away) no sensitive items were left in the ruck. They were all on my person safely tied down.

So anway, I get all this information from the SPC involved in the recovery. He came up on my floor today and explained how everything happened. Up until this point, I only had vague details of the events and a Ruck sack in shambles.

So he’s like, “… yeah, they were scared shitless when we entered their house. They threw their hands in the air and screamed! We collected up all the gear in the house, and that’s when we called you to make sure there was no important equipment in there that may have already been seperated…
It’s a good thing that one guy came up to us or we would not have located all the gear! I was so thankful for him, that I gave him 10 dollars”

Me: “Oh, sweet. That was really nice of you!”

Him: “Yeah… So… I’m gonna need about 10 bucks from you whenever you get a chance.”


That was his decision! That had nothing to do with me. Nor did the entire incident. Had my gear not been recovered, the Army would have replaced all of it at no cost to me. If anyone should be reimbursing him for the informant, it should be the Army. He should get that money from the Company Funds!!!

This is one of those things where I thing he’s kind of a dickhead for even asking me to reimburse him. But at the same time, I could look like a cheap asshole if I don’t give him anything. It’s like, now that he’s crossed that line and been a dick, I need to go along or look like an asshole.
This whole thing blew my mind. I couldn’t believe he even asked me that shit. Basically, the whole reason he came up to the floor to tell me the story, was to get his ten dollars back from me. Holy Shit.

Well… anyway, I gave him the ten dollars. It’s such a small insignificant amount of money. That’s why I’m so shocked he even asked me for it.

What do you guys think?? Should I have even paid him? Should he have even asked me? What would miss manners say?

Miss Manners would tell you that etiquette doesn’t apply to things that aren’t part of polite society, such as one-night stands and, I would imagine, bribery.

IMHO, though, he has no right to ask for the money, but you should have offered to pay him back.

You would classify this as bribery? Why is that?

You were right to feel slighted, BirthdayBearNenno; he didn’t have the right to make an arbitrary financial decision for you w/o your input. Could they not have radioed you at any point in these goings-on? Is it not SOP to store only ‘throwaway’ gear in these sacks?
However, Miss Manners would have said that overall these are extraordinary circumstances and peace is best kept by paying the guy what he asked; is he the sort who might need the $10 more than the next guy for any reason?
And that lady’s not an informant unless she shared some information besides the whereabouts of your gear. She’s an opportunistic thief, though I’m sure they’d all rather have jobs at which they make more than enough to survive and not have to steal to provide for their families. Yes, I’m a softie that would be making soup for everyone and sneaking candy to the kids.
I recently had a co-worker come up to me and tell me I owed $$ to her for a U2 ticket she’d bought for me. “Huh?”, says I. “Yeah, remember how you said that if U2 came back to town you’d want to see them? Well, I saw the tickets were on sale and I snagged 2 up before they were sold out. It’s 52.50 and you can just pay me back whenever.” I paid her b/c I will go to the concert, but it made my head spin at the time.

I think you did the right thing. I mean, you could have said tough to him cause you really didn’t owe him anything but it’ll keep peace in the unit and, I guess, his heart was in the right place to give the ten bucks to the informant. I think you done good my younger twin brother.

I have to admit I skimmed the body of your post a bit. When you said “pay the informant,” I assumed the payment was demanded prior to revealing the information. I was sleepy around the time you got around to saying the payment was out of thankfulness.

Still, the siutation involves thievery, which doesn’t happen in polite society. And paying for information about a thief? Not so much, either.

Nevertheless, I still think Miss Manners would say he shouldn’t have asked, but you should have offered. If she would answer the question at all; she has a habit of giving non-answers like the one I gave at the outset.

Personnally, I wouldn’t have asked the 10 if I have been him, but I would have offered the 10 if I had been you.

As you yourself mentionned, ten dollars aren’t worth causing a problem, nor worth being offended (at least for most of us who aren’t scrapping every penny to pay the utility bills).

I would have thrown the money on the ground at his feet and made him grovel for it, like Marguerite Gautier in Camille.

If only Miss Manners would give answers like this! It’s certainly the most satisfying response to the situation.

The guy was an extra scuzz for not even giving you time to offer to reimburse him.

I was assuming that is what he did.

Hmmm…on reread, he wasn’t completely clear. I must have been assuming things.

Nah… I would have liked to, though. I was set aback at first. But then I told him I’d take care of it as soon as I grabbed some cash, cause I had none on me. A couple hours later I saw him in the dining facility and gave him 10,000 wan.
I actually had money on me when he first asked, but I wanted to try to get that ten bucks from the Company Funds. I mentioned it to my LT, and he said he’d check on it. But I didn’t want that SPC waiting around for things to happen… so I just paid him out of my pocket. I figure if the company ever decides to pay for that, I’ll just get the money then.

But since this was not really MY gear (it’s the Army’s gear after all), and the fact that the gear fell off the truck was no fault of mine, I don’t see how I should even have been hit up for that money. I really was not involved at all. It just so happens that particular equipment is issued to me…

You should pay him the $10. Definitely.

He didn’t know you didn’t have any personal objects in the ruck before they found it. He basically risked his life to get your ruck back without knowing it was worthless to you. He paid the $10 as a show of good faith to the local Iraqi community and probably set a precedent that may help one of your guys who does loose something of value in the future.

Pay the man.

I did already pay him.

And just to clear up any confusion: this is South Korea, not Iraq. It wasn’t so much a dangerous ordeal as it was an inconvenient one. Though I apprectiate the effort in finding the equipment, the drive (the SPC) is overall responsible for the load he is hauling. If some shit falls out of a trailer he’s towing, that’s on him. It’s ultimately his responsibility regardless of whose fault it is. He should have made sure whomever loaded the gear in the trailer did a better job of securing things.

**Also, so everyone understands. I did pay him and I’m not trying to make a big deal about the “amount” of money here. It was insignificant and not a big deal. I’m just interested in others’ views on the principle of the whole thing. Right now I think that he should not have asked. But since he did I am obligated to pay him. However, I am not yet convinced that I should have offered to pay him back (if I was given the chance to, I mean).

In that cae, pay him and then let’s all have some kimchee!!!

Still, the heart of the matter is this;
“He didn’t know you didn’t have any personal objects in the ruck before they found it.”
He could have done you a HUGE favor if it was filled with some of your personal stuff. Because it wasn’t isn’t his fault.

Isn’t it yuan and not wan? The name of the currency?

Best thread ever.

I think Miss Manners would have cajoled him for kicking in the door of the yurt instead of knocking first. She probably would have also suggested a nice frilly card with a Thank You note instead of the wan.

China has the yuan. S. Korea has the won.

The core of Miss Manners’ belief system is that you want to encourage people to do the right thing, like give you presents. You do this by sending thank-you notes afterwards.

So, you want to make sure that, god forbid, if this ever happens again, the guy’ll pony up another $10 to get your ruck back. You do this by giving him the $10.

I’m confused. He gave the $10 as a thank you? That’s a reward, not a bribe. In this case, recovering your stuff probably entitles him to a reimbursement of the reward.

OTOH, you have paid him back and consider the $10 to be a small sum, so I would fret about it no more.