Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Best Policy

I try to treat everyone with honesty and respect. I'm not always successful, but I try.

The other day, a letter arrived here at my home for my ex-husband. He left over six years ago, and there hadn't been anything for him in almost as many years. After all, it takes a while for mail and address changes to catch up. This letter carried first-class postage, so I knew it was not junk but what it was, I did not know. Nor did I care. 

But, the return address, as well as the first class postage, seemed to suggest it was important. The return address contained the word "Settlement" suggesting a court case, or some other type of a finalization of something-or-other. Coupled with the fact I received a "settlement" check a week or two before from a class action lawsuit, I figured that was what it might be and that he had been living here at the time the case was filed several years ago which was why the letter came to my house.

I checked off my options. I could:
  • Trash it-but interfering with someone else's mail is a felony and even though it's not likely I'd get caught, I wouldn't want to risk it, or;
  • Contact him for an address to forward it-but was this a can of worms I really wanted to open?, or;
  • Mark it "Return to Sender"-perhaps the easiest option.

I felt an urgency to make sure he got what he was due. Because I'm nice like that.

In the end, I called a mutual friend who knows knew my ex well and asked her opinion. She thought he'd get back to me in a few days once he had borrowed an address from a friend so I wouldn't end up stalking him (like I'd want to!!) or possibly track him down for the money he owes me (I could hire a private investigator if I truly wanted to).  She was both surprised, yet not surprised that I even entertained the idea of contacting him. She suggested trashing or shredding it, as she would do, but I reminded her of the potential felony.

"Who'd find out?" she asked.

"I just want to do what's honorable," I answered.

"You're too kind."

I hung my head is sheepish acquiescence. 

In the end I followed my heart, emailed him and told him I had what seemed like an important piece of mail for him (I did not let on I suspected what it was-maybe I should have?) and asked what he wanted me to do: 1) forward it-in which case I'd need an address, or 2) mark it 'return to sender' and let the chips fall where they may. He opted for option 2 and that's what I did. 

Maybe I am too nice.

But, sometimes it pays off.

I recently had solar panels installed on my house. Part of the process involved an upgrading of my electrical panel to accommodate the new solar system. The team showed up on time on the appointed day, which also happened to be one of the hottest days of the year so far, and proceeded to make the upgrade. Once finished, they asked me to check every light switch and outlet in every room through the house to make sure there was power to them. Their policy is they don't want to have to come back. Unless it's for a new job. A good policy to have. 

I did have one outlet that didn't work and hadn't worked for a few months. In fact, it hadn't worked for a couple of years. But, as I had no need for it I never followed through on fixing it. Plus the idea of hiring an electrician and the expense all seemed daunting. But, here was my chance to at least get an estimate. So, I took a deep breath and told one of the workers about the outlet and asked if he would just take a look at it and advise me where I should begin and/or what he might charge on a return trip or if it was something I could tackle myself. And I made sure he knew it hadn't worked before they changed the panels.

He ended up doing the repair job for me. On the hottest afternoon in my backyard, with little shade.

At the end of the job, I thanked him profusely and he explained to me why he helped me with the outlet, "Because you were honest with me and didn't try to get me to fix it for free by telling me it stopped working because of the panel upgrade."

I ended up tipping him $60.00 which was all the cash I had at the time.

A few months later, a similar situation happened with my dryer door. My dryer sits to the left of the washer and the door opens from the left side, meaning I pull it toward the washer to load. I then have to lean over the door to add clothes to the dryer and that sometimes aggravates my back. I thought about changing it myself, but the manual suggested I not do that. My washer had been acting up and when the repairperson arrived with the parts I asked if the warranty on my dryer would cover switching the door from left-side open to right-side open, then I'd call and schedule another appointment. He offered to change it while waiting for the washer to finish the test cycle. I tipped him $40.00.

I believe in honesty.

And maybe sometimes I am too nice to people who might not deserve it.

Maybe it's just who I am.

And that's the way I'm going to stay.

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