problem with selling mouse traps

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

problem with selling mouse traps

Postby randall » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:49 am

Just recently I found some work at a local hardware store, I come from a machinist background but was laid off so I was excited to take this time to venture off and work on my people skills with the general public, and working in a hardware store just felt natural. Everything is going good but over the last couple weeks I've been finding it harder to help people with the purchase of mouse traps, first thing I'll do is recommend glue traps or a catch and release tube, then crack a joke that they can bring the little fellow to their neighbor's house! but in the end I usually get the reply "NO, I want them dead". Most people also want product information of the different types of poison and right now we have some really good poison that the governments taken off the shelf that the store wants to push. This leaves me in an uncomfortable situation as not only am I giving options of the products available but I'm also providing them with information as to the best options to choose.

Overall if they choose not to use the catch and release products I politely tell them "I don't know too much about the other products, and I'll grab somebody who does". That works fine when somebody's available but regardless of if I help them or not, when I walk away I still feel like I'm helping to kill the animals and also helping the customers kill as well :shrug:

This can't be too good for sila? I lie and tell people that I don't know anything (that's a fair trade for trying to save a life, I'm not too worried) but that only works half the time, the other time I'm partially taking part in killing and it can't be too good on a karmic level for the customer or myself. On top of this I know I may have to explain this to the boss or fellow employees, I'm thinking or just coming out and telling them that I can't help people kill animals. :shrug: if they don't understand at least it's out in the open, it could backfire if my timing is wrong though.

any thoughts or ideas? how would you go about this situation?
"Bhikkhus, possessing five factors, speech is well spoken, not badly spoken; it is blameless and beyond reproach by the wise. What five? It is spoken at the proper time; what is said is true; it is spoken gently; what is said is beneficial; it is spoken with a mind of loving-kindness. Possessing these five factors, speech is well spoken, not badly spoken; it is blameless and beyond reproach by the wise."
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby SarathW » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:13 am

Once I caught a mouse using my vacuum cleaner and release to wild.
Consider this as an opportunity.
May be you can invent a new product and become a millionaire.
How about invent a new product to catch the mouse using the vacuum cleaner then once a month somebody will pick them up and release them to the wild.
:shrug:
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:25 am

I think you are overthinking this, all you are doing is helping people find what they want.

It wasn't you who made the decision to stock the mousetraps, if it was then maybe you'd have a point.

I think in pointing out the option of the glue traps you are doing all you can, your responsibility is to your employer and if you refuse to help customers with sonme product lines then you may find you end up with the kamma of losing your job.
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"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby santa100 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:25 am

Try to stay far away from the mouse trap aisle. That way if people ask, you can just tell them to go to that aisle and some of your co-worker there will help them out. The long term solution is to try to find another job. Since your background is a machinist, if you don't use this skillset, you'll get rusty and soon will lose this skillset. You might also want to consider switching career to other fields in high demand, some only need certification without a full 4-year degree: nurse assistant, medical billing, radiology/ultrasound technologist, etc. Use the local community college, tuition there is cheaper than regular university..
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby pilgrim » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:30 am

I can't give you the sutta reference at the moment but I remember a story where a wife dutifully prepared her husband's arrows for hunting. The Buddha said she was not to be blamed as she was only being dutiful to her husband. There was no intention of killing in her mind. I'll edit this post if I find the details later.

Edit: See the story of Dhammapada verse 124
The bhikkhus then asked the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, is the wife of the hunter who is a sotapanna, also not guilty of taking life, if she has been getting things like nets, bows and arrows for her husband when he goes out hunting?" To this question the Buddha answered, "Bhikkhus, the sotapannas do not kill, they do not wish others to get killed. The wife of the hunter was only obeying her husband in getting things for him. Just as the hand that has no wound is not affected by poison, so also, because she has no intention to do evil she is not doing any evil."
http://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/ve ... ?verse=124
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:30 am

If you're the owner of the store then you can choose to sell weapons and poisons or not. As an employee, your livelihood does not depend on the sale of these items. It depends on you doing your job conscientiously. If you were working in a liquor store and sold alcohol it would be the same issue. As long as you're not on a commission for selling more, then you are not guilty of earning wrong-livelihood.

Nevertheless, having said that, always be on the look-out for a job where you only have to do things that are beneficial to others, and harm no living beings. To find any job these days is hard enough — to find the perfect job is even harder. Even doctors sometimes face ethical dilemmas.
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby Mkoll » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:39 am

randall,

I agree with what Ven. Pesala said about keeping your job and keeping an eye out for a better one. Got to keep the bread rolling. And other posters have offered good strategies for avoiding the situation to the best of your ability.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If you're the owner of the store then you can choose to sell weapons and poisons or not. As an employee, your livelihood does not depend on the sale of these items. It depends on you doing your job conscientiously. If you were working in a liquor store and sold alcohol it would be the same issue. As long as you're not on a commission for selling more, then you are not guilty of earning wrong-livelihood.

Nevertheless, having said that, always be on the look-out for a job where you only have to do things that are beneficial to others, and harm no living beings. To find any job these days is hard enough — to find the perfect job is even harder. Even doctors sometimes face ethical dilemmas.

I imagine some doctors' ethical dilemmas are some of the hardest if they're involved in things like abortion and end-of-life care. They shoulder a heavy burden.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby seeker242 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:57 am

I would just tell them it's against your religion to help people with mouse traps. If they are going to fire you for your religious beliefs, well that would probably be illegal.
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby randall » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:14 pm

thanks for all your kind advice and replies, I guess for now I'll try my to avoid the situation in the best possible way when permitted, and perhaps once I get to know the owners and fellow employees better I'll share some thoughts and beliefs on how I feel. It's good that the Buddhas teachings cover situations such as this :candle:

thanks,
"Bhikkhus, possessing five factors, speech is well spoken, not badly spoken; it is blameless and beyond reproach by the wise. What five? It is spoken at the proper time; what is said is true; it is spoken gently; what is said is beneficial; it is spoken with a mind of loving-kindness. Possessing these five factors, speech is well spoken, not badly spoken; it is blameless and beyond reproach by the wise."
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Re: problem with selling mouse traps

Postby Pondera » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:39 am

I don't think I'd personally have this dilemma. But you deserve credit for having a heart for the mice. I would suggest leading the consumer directly to the non-lethal solutions and then motioning them to the lethal solutions. You're giving the person an ethical choice of their own and you might change a few hearts and minds. You can even look at of as if to say "because it is not someone else and it is me directing people to the choices out there some mice that would surely have died might live."
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