• Learning that an HIV-positive client refuses to tell or protect the partner and being torn in different directions by law, confidentiality, public safety, and compassion, Bill considers quitting or just settling for a serious case of burnout.
• Your coworker’s personal troubles are affecting his work performance. You under- stand that his irritability and unreliability are temporary, stemming from a messy di- vorce. Staying late to help finish his monthly reports, you feel your resentment build, and you wonder whether covering for him is good for the agency and fair to you.
• A town ordinance forbids more than four unrelated people to share common liv- ing quarters. Verifying a neighbor’s complaint on a site visit, you discover a some- what unorthodox domestic setup by otherwise law-abiding adults. Their lifestyle appears to offend the neighbor. After years in the health department, you know or- dinances like these have not stood up in court. Do you start eviction proceedings?
What is the right thing to do? What makes a problem your responsibility, a resolu- tion your obligation? What does the difference between helping someone and not hurting someone mean on the job? What is the right thing to do when the rules push one way and reason or compassion another?