Vol.XX No.XI Pg.8
January 1984

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

The voice on the phone stirred happy memories, for it belonged to the man's son, long gone from home, having family and home of his own. The familiar "Dad, how's Mom?" warmed his heart. His son wanted to have Christmas in his own home with his family. They would go to Colorado to ski, and would not make it for the holiday dinner, but would come as soon as they returned from the mountains. Dad understood, and wanted his son to establish his own close family circle.

Then conversation turned to business. Dad planned to buy an expensive computer, and the company for whom the son worked had all sorts of software for word processing — spelling checks, grammatics, data processing, the works. A fellow employee had suggested he buy a couple of diskettes and copy the software programs. He could send his dad $600 worth of programs for practically nothing.

Dad felt a moment of elation at the suggestion. Free software would allow him to buy the letter-quality printer without straining his budget. But — his mind spun — is that material really ours to copy — is it —? The son was saying, "I've thought it over dad; I've thought about it a lot. I know this would mean much to you, and take nothing material from the company. But I know the answer — this is not the right thing to do."

Before dad had expressed his doubt or offered objection, the son had gone to the heart of the matter. Both men knew that copyrighted material was only the property of the company to use, and certainly not the property of an employee, to copy and pass to others. Many excuses for wrong could not change the principle of right.

But it was not until the next day, when dad told a friend some of the conversation, that the full impact of the son's decision became apparent. The friend was amazed that software could cost so much, and upon learning this "opportunity" had been rejected, practically exploded. "Six hundred dollars worth of software — man, what a Christmas present that would make."

Stealing company property to honor Christ? That's a switch! And dad replied, "He gave me pride in his character, worth far more than all gold."