Excerpt from Exhilarated Life: Discovering Inner Happiness
If you never lie…
You never have to remember what you said.
My father taught me that. Handy advice. My dad had many neat
sayings that were bite sized pieces of advice—some his own and some,
I’m sure, from his parents. He also told me that when people end a
sentence with “Honest!” they have just told you a lie. The other thing
he warned me about—and I seem to keep forgetting—is that we tend
to assume that others live by the same rules of conduct we do. In other
words, if we don’t use deceit as a viable means to an end, then we don’t
expect others to. And the giant one: If people lie about the little things
then they definitely lie about the big things!
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Why am I sharing this? Because I keep getting slapped by lies and
deceit. Am I a magnet for this? Apparently so. Am I naive? Not so
much. What am I doing about it? Well, a little bit at a time. My dad
also taught me about honor and dignity and noble acts. His word was
his bond and all “deals” sealed with a handshake.
Hibbie Bull said what he meant and he did what he said he would do.
Life was simple. He told me one time that the owner of the company
he represented asked him to lie to a customer. He refused to do it,
explaining to the owner, “If I will lie for you I will lie to you. You will
never be able to trust me again.”
Me? I have buckets of trust. So much trust that I keep pouring it into
the hands of those who do not deserve it. Am I stupid? No. I deeply
desire to live in a world that is based on trust and accountability. I
will continue to act from my highest values. It is the only way that the
fabric of human goodness that has been so torn over the past decades
can ever be repaired. How do I do that?
Well, after my recent adventure when I tripped and bruised myself
over caveat emptor, Athan, my mate and, sometimes, life interpreter
explained it this way: If I, and others like me, desire to live in a world
based on the Golden Rule, then we must realize the statistics. Those
who live treating others the way they wish to be treated are
in the minority.
That means if there are 5% of us on the planet living
and doing business under these higher values, criteria and expectations,
then 95% are not. Ergo, the majority of the people and businesses we
deal with will be trying to take advantage of us, slipping something under the radar,
or plain out lying. The rub is that because this practice is so rife, it has
become the new norm. Lies and deceit are written right into contracts.
They are legal—but are they ethical? No, no, no, and NO!
The thing my dad forgot to mention, and maybe it didn’t apply so
much then, was that the truth does not always win out. Often—way
too often—the nefarious guys win. They are good at what they do,
they prepare for the battle, and they have deep pockets. They have
no moral compass, so any means are justified to achieve their end.
They set out to deceive in the first place—that was the goal—so they
create their modus operandi around that. For instance, they know that
human nature is to look up to the right when we lie (or the other way
round, depending on whether you are left or right-handed), so they
look you straight in the eye. They overcome their basic human nature
on oh so many levels.
My most recent handful? The cell phone company arbitrarily
cancelled my program when my son got his new iPhone. The company
charged me two thousand dollars over two months. Because it was
paid automatically (trust) I now have to fight to get my money back.
I have sent a lawyer’s letter—which if you have seen the film Avatar
is like sending a feathered arrow across the bow of the mothership.
On another occasion, another phone company kept charging me
for a business line and Internet for two years after I had cancelled
the service and closed my boutique. I had played ping pong on the
phone with operators from Halifax to Quebec until I had had enough
of dreaming they might have any interest in customer service other
than to wear me down until I gave up. I finally wrote to the two
vice presidents in charge of each service and copied CRTC. Problem
A security alarm company wrote in the term of my contract—five
years—after I had signed it. At the time I was renting a store with
a two-year lease. I read that contract before I signed it and know
unequivocally that I would not sign a five-year contract in a two-year
property. Why would I? The term was “handwritten” in two places. I would
have seen it. Could I prove it? Nope. Result: I had to pay. Fortunately
two years after the fact the new tenant took on the contract and my
obligation was complete.
And contractors? Well, suffice it to say that people like Mike Holmes
have thriving renovation rescue shows because of the code of conduct
of building subcontractors. Getting home contract work done is a little
like a survivor show. In the past I have made it my specialty to attract
the lowest of the low. Even though they came recommended, and didn’t
even know each other, they all more or less had the same code of conduct:
come in, tear their corner of the house apart and then, with all the debris
lying in the middle of the floor and the ceiling open to the heavens say,
“Oh, just one thing…I’m not going to be able to finish the job for the original
price I quoted.” You can’t even share this grief with your friends because
they will invariably have a similar story.
When did this get so out of control? I am shamed by my own willingness
to pay to make things right, thinking that in the end they would do
a good job because they really meant well. Actually they never did
mean well. The bottom of the ninety-fifth percentile contains these
characters. The lesson? Check references and go and see work for
yourself. Disregard the voice of polite conditioning that tells you it is
suspicious and not respectful or trusting of others.
My most recent one is very interesting. Just yesterday, I discovered I
had dropped into a snake pit. They are many and I am one. They have
a reputation for coercion and litigation. Wrongful contracts written
by clever lawyers—teeny tiny print.
Their way of doing business is to impale clients on automatic contract renewals
and then litigate when the client tries to cancel or challenges the contract.
(My case is more heinous, the details of which are not relevant here.) The cases
they win are those where the client doesn’t show up for the trial (oh yes
they threaten to take it to trial in the US). The company boasts of its prestige client list,
and clients of that caliber can afford to write off a bad situation rather than send
someone to court to play against a stacked deck. The house always wins.
I have two things going against me to choose that action, if it comes
to that. One: I do not owe the money. Two: My business motto is
Better Business through Conscious Action. I will not perpetuate the
wellbeing of a company that uses coercion to prosper. I cannot. If I
have to borrow the money I will do so. I may only be one—but I
intend to be a very loud “one.” Even if I “lose” I will win.
The other thing that Athan told me which I didn’t so much want to
hear is that the 5%—once they grasp the lay of the land—must not
only be forewarned and protect themselves, but more importantly for
the future of this world must also be prepared to stand up against the
95%. I would prefer to will a beautiful world and let my desires make
it so. But to paraphrase Dr. Phil—that’s not working so well for me.
So what do we do when “they” have more power, more lawyers, more
money, and more tricks than we do? We pick up one tiny stone and
aim it very, very well. I’m not sure what I will do yet, but once I decide
I will put it out to the others of the 5% and gather a following. If
you are reading this now, I mean you.
What will I ask of you? Just be there as my witness. As Margaret Mead said,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
P.S. When I posted this the company in question read it and asked me to take it down.
I refused because it named no names. I never heard from them again. Bullies
are often afraid of the spotlight.
Sigh…the phone companies continue to outwit me.
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