Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Anybody Listening.

I've been told that I'm a good listener. I'm told that I give very in depth, complex, thought provoking responses. But I wonder if that means I'm listening, like really listening or do I simply get distracted easily. Does my mind drifts to far reaching tangents and when I'm called on to give a response, it sounds in depth because it's so far off from the topic.

For example, I met my friend for our usual hump day happy hour pow wow. She's late, as usual and I'm half in the bag by the time she gets there (OK, fine, I'm not half in the bag...I'm on my second drink). 'I'm sorry!' she laments. 'My boss kept me late....' and she proceeds to tell me why her boss kept her. Now I won't go into detail (if you want people to listen: keep it short and simple, stick to the details, leave out any extraneous information like what color your bosses tie was that day, don't throw in 'which reminds me, make sure I tell you later, well since we're already talking about it, let me tell you now...I'm rambling, so much for listening to my own advice)

So, back to my friend. Let me give you some background. She's a legal assistant and her firm deals with a wide variety of cases, but on this particular case, the issue that came up was lack of payment. A personal injury cases settled and not every one got paid. After the money was spent, someone came knocking on their door saying pay me! So my friend and her boss spent the latter part of the day trying to figure what went wrong and who's to pay. Now, I'm no lawyer, but I'm sure that legally speaking there should be a definite solution to this problem. I mean isn't that the point in getting a lawyer, so they figure out your settlement and pay you, themselves, and everyone else? So my friend, is going on about how she should have caught the mistake, but it wasn't really her fault....and to be honest we're 4, maybe 5 minutes into the story and I'm already drifting in and out and yes, maybe it had something to do with the third glass of wine, but still, how am I a good listener??

I start thinking that if there's one thing to blame, it's the horrible economy and maybe that's what brought about all the greed and the bickering that my friend is talking about. Sure someone provided a service, expected to get paid, and didn't, but who is responsible for paying the bill? The attorney. But what if, as in this situation, the attorney was never advised of this provider, are they still responsible for paying? It sounds like a misunderstanding and all that needs to be done is for the provider and attorney to talk it out. But of course that's too simple. And of course that didn't' happen. It culminated in the worst threat that you could ever make to an attorney, and no it's not being sued, it's being reported to the bar. The provider threw the first punch making threats and claiming she has evidence that the attorney promised to pay when she doesn't. Ouch.

One thing my friend said that did stick in my mind was, 'the provider says, I wouldn't normally go to the bar, but times are tough, I have a family to look out for.' Will times get so bad, so bleak, so desperate that we forget how to be kind and understanding to one another because we are trying to just survive? Will survival, basic survival, be the catalyst for people's greed.? Now I'm not so naive to think that people aren't already greedy, selfish, and only interested in advancing themselves. I live in this me generation of excess and capitalism and never having enough and always wanting more. But when jobs are being lost, and homes are being taken away, and food becomes scare, a more primal instinct kicks in and surviving at all cost becomes a number one priority. When it becomes either me or them, it's scary to think what people are capable of. You see people at their lowest and you see at their very core what they are made of and I for one am afraid to look. I'd like to think that I'm a bigger person, a moral person, but when it comes down to it, what will I choose?


M.J. said...

I don't think greed is an outcome of the bad economy, but instead one of the causes. Look at all the people who have been living beyond their means, buying flashy cars and enormous houses they don't need. Look at the companies that have moved their factories--and jobs--overseas in the name of lower production prices and greater mass consumption. In the United States, there are few people who just "survive," unless cable tv and cars are considered necessities of life. Even now, our poor look like other countries' middle classes. I am hoping the economic crisis brings people down a few notches, back to reality and what's really important/necessary in life and forces some much-needed societal changes.

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