I was recently sitting in the O’Hare airport in Chicago when a pre-recorded message came over the speaker system. What sounded like a kind woman stated, “Please remember to cover your mouth when coughing and when sneezing.” I immediately laughed and thought to myself, Are these things that people really need to be reminded of? Are there hordes of humanity strolling around the airport hacking and sneezing on unsuspecting bystanders?
The soothing lady continued, asking everyone “to please wash your hands after going to the bathroom to avoid spreading germs.” Are you kidding me? People actually need to be reminded to wash their hands after using the facilities? I have been to dozens of airports, but this was the first time I ever heard a recording recommending that people do what every kindergartner is taught from day one of school.
As I thought about this, it dawned on me that there must be a reason for these recordings. Then came the light bulb. People–grown adults–are not covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing and not washing their hands after going to the bathroom. I quickly busted out my anti-bacterial gel, washed my hands, and fled from the airport like I was in the movie “Contagion.”
Approximately 15 minutes later, I was taken aback again on my train ride into the city when another recorded voice came over the speaker system. This time it was a male voice, and he sounded much harsher. “Please be mindful of other passengers on the train when talking on your cellular phones.” In other words, “Hey moron, nobody is interested in your phone conversation so crank down the volume a few decibels and use your inside voice.” Well, that was my interpretation.
Folks, I wanted to stand up on the train and proclaim my love for Chicago. The Windy City’s leaders have apparently taken it upon themselves to be everyone’s mom, grandmother, or kindergarten teacher. And quite frankly, I love it.
Our society needs the Common Sense Police, and hey, I could be the chief. Inspired, I started compiling my own list of friendly reminders that could play from loud speakers across the world. I would include the previously mentioned Chicago reminders with an emphasis on not talking loudly on cell phones. Then I’d continue.
Please remember not to be a jerk. Treat other people kindly. Don’t be self-centered. No taking selfies. Remember to wear deodorant. Don’t text and drive. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Give back to those less fortunate. Don’t be a bigot or racist. Listen to other people when they are talking to you. Say please and thank you. Don’t use the word hashtag in your conversations.
The train came to an abrupt stop and I snapped back to reality. I realized my list would be way too long and would never fly with the general population. If people aren’t washing their hands after going to the bathroom, how could I expect them to follow my laundry list of reminders? My recording dream died that day on the blue line, but I was satisfied to know that the city of Chicago is doing its part to try and restore civility and basic health standards to our society.
So what does any of this have to do with a blog about fraud, investigation, and risk mitigation? In my opinion, from a very young age we all know the difference between right and wrong. It’s a conscious choice, and deep down inside, most people understand the distinction.
The best advice I ever gave my children is when faced with a difficult decision, just do the right thing. Such a simple concept in theory, but oftentimes very difficult in practice. Surely, we all know that we should cover our mouths when sneezing and hacking. We know we should wash our hands after using the restroom.
Similarly, everyone knows they are not supposed to rob people or steal from companies. Yet annually, insurance fraud still is still an approximately $100 billion industry. Identity theft and other fraud crimes continue to skyrocket. Fraudsters are making a conscious choice to do the wrong thing and most of them clearly understand that.
So fighting fraud becomes a more complex challenge than perhaps we ever thought. Combatting fraud and almost every other negative issue in our society requires fundamentally changing the way people think about doing the right thing.
Simple in concept; most likely impossible in practice.
If I had the answers to this dilemma, clearly I’d win a Noble Peace Prize. There would be no wars, no crime, and no selfies. Just kidding about the selfies. They’ll outlive the cockroaches.
Still, I’d like to try. So how about piping this message through recordings in all the airports and trains? Kindly remember not to steal or defraud. This includes your fellow citizens, corporations, and insurance companies. And please, for the love of God, stop screaming into your cell phones.