Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Good Guy Discount

Good guy discount, ever heard of it? Me neither till last weeks episode of This American Life. Basically it boils down to: you walk into a business, select an item, then upon being rung up ask "do you give a good guy discount?" The clerk is most likely going to be perplexed not having heard of it before and say "no". You reply with "you know like I'm a good guy, you're a good guy, from one good guy to another to another can you work something out." Supposedly it works about 20% of the time although the other 80% is probably heavily effected by business with strict policies or employees who don't have the right authority. 

The reporter for the piece set out to try and get a "good guy discount" but not without much hesitation. His main qualms were exactly mine - calling yourself a good guy seems like something a good guy shouldn't and wouldn't do. You are asking someone to do a favor for you because you are claiming to have commonality. I would be mortified to ask for such a discount partially because I'm constantly questioning my own goodness, but also because making such a statement would be counter productive to my goal of being a decent person. 

It's that seed deep down in all of us that wants to feel that we are a good person and also have other people recognize it, that makes this discount work. Imagine you are feeling down and a random stranger asks you to help them because they can tell you are a good guy and then identifies them self as the same. The affirmation is going to cause many to let their guard down and oblige. It feels like a huge manipulation to me - a facade filled only with selfishness. 

As I listened, I thought about the difference between the perspectives of people who question their own good and those who accept it. Constantly questioning your soul is just as damaging as living in a delusion; however, being delusional seems to have some perks. There's a fine line in between the two where you still question but accept that because you question and adjust it makes you good. 

I'll use the "good guy discount" as frequently as I use the "five finger discount" - never. Instead we should aim to be good and recognize it in other people so that they can be encouraged making the world a better place. That's much better than amassing discounted possesions. 

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