The Old Man and the Plumber


“The way to overcome the angry man is with gentleness, the evil man with goodness, the miser with generosity and the liar with truth.” Indian proverb

I’ve lived my life by always giving people the benefit of the doubt: treat people with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

This philosophy has constantly proven how naïve I am. When I was young, one out of twenty people would turn out to be greedy, corrupt, liars, only looking out for their own self-interest.

As time went by, the number who couldn’t be trusted or were simply evil began going up. Regardless of this change, my philosophy remained the same. Sometimes I’d put myself in their shoes in order to understand why they acted the way they did. Why did they feel the need to lie or to get angry when confronted, or to constantly take rather than give, or suddenly become evil when it seemed they were good all along. I’d sympathize with them, get angry, and sometime even bend the truth for them, so that they wouldn’t get hurt or caught.

Being young, I’d let them think they were getting away with something, without anyone being any wiser. I’d let them take more than they should or deserved, feeling they needed it more than I did. As a young man, a little extra work to make up for what they took wasn’t going to kill me. I was young and they were older, so my feelings where they needed the money more than I did and with a little extra work replacing it wouldn’t hurt me.

Now, I am the older man. Things are different. Now, nine out of ten people I come across turn out to be evil, greedy, untrustworthy liars.

My philosophy though hasn’t kept up with the times, and so I continue to treat people with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

And so, when our boiler broke down a few weeks ago and the plumber sent by the warranty company arrived, I treated him the same way I treat everyone else. Tom was a very nice and polite fellow who was about half my age. I listened in as he told the service company it would be a three hour repair and he would need to return another day since he didn’t have the needed parts.

Rather than doing the three hour repair as he told them, the plumber performed a ten minute temporary fix, using parts he forgot he had in his truck. To me, this was good news all around. I had heat, Tom wouldn’t have to make a second one hour drive to return, and the warranty company saves some money.

Two weeks later the boiler stopped working again. The temporary fix stopped working. To make a long story short, it turned out Tom charged the warranty service company for the full three hour repair and for a second visit to complete the repair. To avoid performing the three hour repair, which the service company already paid him for, Tom claimed tampering caused the second failure, which voids the warranty and gets him off the hook.

Initially I was angry. Tom had robbed me, since now I have to pay another plumber myself to perform the job Tom was already paid for, but never performed.

The shoe is on the other foot now. Tom is the younger, stronger person, who as a plumber with employees working for him, can afford to be honest and trustworthy. I’m the recently laid off older person who can’t afford to be taken anymore.

Despite all that, my anger faded fairly quickly. I suppose I should have learned my lesson, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Tom is an evil, greedy, dishonest man who will get what he deserves one day. Life is too short to get angry and to hold grudges. Tom will never be allowed to set foot back into this house.

And so, even though nine out of ten people don’t deserve it, I’ll continue giving people the benefit of the doubt by treating everyone with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

I’ve reached this age a happy contented man using that philosophy. I’ll continue being happy and stress free because each time another one of those nine crosses my path, I’ll confront the angry man is with gentleness, the evil man with goodness, the miser with generosity and the liar with truth. What’s more important than anything else to me, is that I remain part of the one in ten who is gentle, good, generous and honest.

Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast

English: Pond at Pope's Meadow Pope's Meadow i...

Pond at Pope’s Meadow is named after Alexander Pope who lived nearby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Alexander Pope

From Pope’s “An Essay on Man” this quote has always struck a chord with me, especially the first line.  I think it is a great illustration of the sheer tenacity of the human spirit.  Very much in the same vein of “Dum spiro spero” (While I breathe, I hope), Alexander Pope very deftly illustrates how as long as we live so does hope.  But unlike Cicero’s “Dum spiro spero”, Pope’s “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” does not just encompass one single individual but instead is a concise treatise on the human condition.

The essence of hope (or expectation from the Greek elpis) itself is that wonderful blessing/curse that truly makes human beings the most intelligent and emotional creature that we are.  Its existence provides us with the very basis of living.  What does our existence amount to without the hope for a better tomorrow or expectation of things to come?

You may be slightly confused by my use of blessing/curse when describing to hope.  This notion of hope being both is rooted for me in the early myth of Pandora.  In the myth, the Greek gods create Pandora as a gift for Epimetheus (“Hindsight”), brother of Prometheus (“Foresight”).  She out of naivety opens a jar containing all the evils in the world but closes it just in time to keep hope trapped in the jar.  I’m of two minds when it comes to this:

  1. What is hope (arguably a good thing) doing in a jar (filled by the gods) with all the world’s evils (death, destruction, disease)?
  2. What if the reason hope is in this jar is because it is a curse as well as a blessing?

I think that option 2 is the more likely reason.  Hope is a wonderful thing.  Each morning we are filled with hope for the day.  But then also at the end of the day, hope can be a devastating thing.  For example, you spent all day hoping that your beloved would phone as she/he promised you but as you lay your head on your pillow, you are left with the emptiness of an unrealized hope.

But it is that hope/expectations that truly differentiates humans from the animal world around us.  For what is a life without hope?

Erin Eymard is a lover of history and literature and blogs over at The Bookworm’s Fancy.

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Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie; I Cut the Tree

“Lying can never save us from another lie.” Vaclav Havel

Everyone knows those famous words associated with George Washington “Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie; I Cut the Tree”

One lie is seldom where it ends. It’s guaranteed more lies will be needed to explain why the first lie wasn’t a lie.

A manager once gave a promotion to his friend rather than to the best qualified person. This is the same as a lie because in essence he was saying that his friend deserved the promotion more than the other person.

As usually happens with lies, someone questioned this move and so the manager had to defend his actions. Rather than admitting he promoted the wrong person, he told more lies. His next lies were that the other worker wasn’t more qualified, in fact, the other worker was on the verge of disciplinary action. So now, not only did the better worker not get the promotion, but his reputation is ruined in order to justify promoting the friend.

From there it just snowballed. In most instances the manager’s many lies never surface. However, it’s known they were lies and the chances for this manager advancing much higher with this company are very slim.

The lies resulted in ending the career of a promising employee. In the long run, the promising employee will go work elsewhere and will prosper, the friend who was given the job will eventually be let go because he wasn’t qualified for it, and the manager will never get another promotion.

A lie or deceitful action done with ill intentions will always lead to more lies and deceit. They will be required to cover up for the first. In the long run, things usually work themselves out, making the initial lie fruitless.

It’s much simpler, less work, leads to better results and increased happiness simply to tell the truth from the beginning.

It’s also much better to admit you made a mistake than to tell a second lie. We all make mistakes and it will be forgiven. What’s not going to be forgiven is when you cover up a lie with more lies to the point where good people have to take the fall for your actions.

Telling the truth, when faced with stiff punishment for doing so, is the mark of a person of integrity, good character and deserving of respect. It is the mark of a person who can be trusted with unparalleled authority, like leading a new nation.

Valentine’s Day: A day for amateurs

“When you feel cold and warm at the same time,
When you read over the same line for the tenth time,
When your heart and thoughts somehow appear to rhyme,
And when a simple name conquers your whole mind,
Then you are in deep trouble my friend…
You are in what they call, “love”.  Philippos Aristotelous

Maintaining a loving relationship takes work, dedication, and compromises. A loving relationship needs be worked on and cherished all year round. If you wait till Valentine’s Day to do something special for the one you love, then your relationship isn’t going to last very long.

The real meaning of being ‘in love’ is that you’d move mountains for the person you love. Making a half-hearted attempt one day out of the year doesn’t even come close to proving how much you love the other person. That’s the mark of amateurs or someone hoping to get lucky.

If you’re truly in love, Valentine’s Day should be the day to say in words how you feel. It’s fine to buy jewelry or other expensive gifts if you’re courting someone, hoping to win their love. Expensive gifts are not for those already in love.

For those already in love, nothing, no matter how expensive, will be treasured more than a gift from the heart. Your own words, which convey just how special your love is, are priceless.

You don’t have to be a poet or a writer to jot down what’s in your heart. All you have to do is write exactly how the other person makes you feel and why you love them unconditionally. It’s really pretty simple, writing down why you love the other person, yet very few bother doing it. Those who are able to will have a loving relationships that’ll last forever.

If you can’t find the right words, it’s probably because they aren’t there. You might be infatuated or think you’re in love, but you really aren’t. If the love is there, the words will come pouring out. If you can’t find them, then run out to the stores before they close. There’s still time for you to buy the other person’s affections for the time being, until you find your true love.

Never abandon your family

“Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.”  Mother Teresa

When everyone else passes you by, when no one else will lift a finger to help you, when you have nowhere else to turn, when it seems that the entire world has given up on you, it is someone from your family who ultimately comes through.

Many family members never see eye to eye. They fight and argue constantly, growling at each other when face to face. That is a fact of life. Family members will always disagree and fight. However, come hell or high water, somewhere deep down there is a longing and a love for other family which can never be replaced by anyone else.

Family members should never stay angry at each other for extended periods of time. Let the rest of the world abandon you, but never abandon family.

There are some things you need to do if you and a close family member are angry with each other. Sit down and talk face to face. Tell the other why you’re angry. Show them the respect and love that can only come from family. And then do something you may not have done before. Sit and listen. Let them tell you what is on their mind. Listen with an open mind, without judging. Wait until they finish before coming to any conclusions. Don’t pre-judge.

The next thing to do is to see things from their perspective. They may appear one way from your point of view, but look at things from the other’s point of view. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you have done the same thing, or acted the same way?

The last thing to do is to smile. No matter what’s happening to the outside world, no matter how much you disagree, you’re still family and deep down that means everything. When you smile, especially in the middle of a tense moment, you’re telling the others that nothing comes between you and family. You’re telling them no matter how hard headed they are, or how stubborn you are, you still love them.

When you smile at a family member, you’re telling them everything’s alright. You’re telling them there is still hope for us. You’re telling them “I’m here for you”.

Cut the bull, no ones buying it!

“An overdose of praise is like 10 lumps of sugar in coffee; only a very few people can swallow it.” Emily Post

All of you who follow this blog are the greatest in the world. I have it on good authority you’re the best people to be followed by. I wouldn’t trade one of you for a thousand of Oprah followers. It’s true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Her followers are only half there. They don’y even read her posts, they just pretend to. You, my loyal followers however, consume every word that comes out of this site. You are truly amazing.

Was that a little much? Maybe around 10 lumps of sugar worth?

Well, that’s what it seems like when you give someone too much praise. If you’re truly sincere, a few kind words is all it takes.

If you’re insincere, then why bother? You’d be lying and most people would know it. If you don’t mean it, then it’s best not to say it. Otherwise you’ll sound like ten lumps of sugar.

Now, getting back to the praise. I can’t say with surety whether you’re the best people to be followed by or not. I’d like to think so.

What I can say is that all of you chose to follow these posts because you like them, not to return the favor because I followed your blog. That inspires me to keep posting, and for that, I thank you.

Are you living in the past?

“Nothing wilts faster than laurels that have been rested upon.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

So you made quite a few accomplishments in your day? That’s great. Do you sit back and reflect on those accomplishments? Do you reminisce about them with pride? Does your chest expand with pride?

That’s enough of that. Stop living in the past. How long ago were those accomplishments? If you have to count back in years, then it’s been too long. You’re like the middle aged people who still reflect back on their high school accomplishments.

Have you done anything recently, or have you just been living off your laurels? While your living in the past, others are out-performing you. Sure, they were great accomplishments at the time, but those days are long gone.

Time or opportunity waits for no one. If you’re resting on your laurels, you’re missing out on new opportunities. Go out and accomplish someone new, before it’s too late and you’re no longer able to. What you did last year or the year before is old news.

People smile when you tell them what you did, but they’re just being polite. They see you as the person who used to be good, who used to have a talent. To them, you’re a has been.

So, what’s the next major thing you’re going to accomplish? Leave a comment if you’re serious. Say what you hope to accomplish and by when. I’ll hold you to it. I’ll check back to make sure you’re still on track.