Reaching the top on the backs of others

Fence

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Twenty years ago a very successful business person in my community purchased a magnificent old mansion overlooking our downtown park. This home has a rich history and pedigree and screams you made it, you are important.

As part of the renovation this business person decided they needed a six-foot high wrought iron fence built around the perimeter. Sitting on two acres, this was going to be a very expensive fence.

You may or may not know that hand-forging wrought iron is a lost art. In our city there are only two companies left (there used to be three) that have the skill and artistry to create what people would expect to grace a million dollar plus home. The business person chose a craftsman and after months of design, many more months of building, and months of installation the project was completed. In a word it truly was a work of art. For the better part of a year this craftsman worked on this project exclusively (what the business person insisted on), taking minimal draws to cover part of the cost of the materials (again what the business person insisted on) and basically working for free until the job was completed.

Do you see where this story is going? When the craftsman presented his client with the final bill, I heard in the neighborhood of $150,000, his client, the business person uttered two simple but very chilling words “Sue me”.

This story has two endings. The craftsman closed his business, sold his property and equipment to pay off his debts and moved in with one of his children in another city. I had heard he died not long after this unfortunate event but I don’t know this for sure. Several years later the business person living in the magnificent mansion with the beautiful wrought iron fence got into trouble with the government and lost the mansion, their business and moved away.

Opinions varied about this situation. Some defended and praised the business person for working the system to their advantage. The craftsman should have been more savvy in negotiating his deal and not so naive. After all, it was just business. Others, like myself, were disgusted by the actions of the business person and hoped that Karma would take a big bite out of their ass soon, which it did.

I ride by this property often and always think about this story. The beauty of his work still stands but the beauty is tempered with sadness. For one person it was just business, for the other person their livelihood. For me it was an injustice never remedied.

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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46 Responses to Reaching the top on the backs of others

  1. dawnmarie says:

    Terrible. Not surprising, but terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, wanted to offer a little local perspective to the story. I also had a “business person” who owed me money that said “sue me”. In weighing the cost of what he owed against the time and expense it would take to collect I walked away. That is what he was banking on. Karma bit him in the ass as well in the end, several times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dawnmarie says:

        I am amazed that people can so easily step on the necks of others. The ease found to cheat, steal and lie. They really think they get away with it…and maybe they do for a time, at least it seems to us. I suspect however, these people never have rest. They are constantly looking over their shoulders afraid to be found out. They can’t sleep well at night because if they have any conscience left, it nags and nags plus they have to keep their lies straight. Their hearts are heavy, their moods are sour, their relationships with others are shallow and they themselves are not stable…always looking for the next big hustle. They do however serve as examples to those who want to do better than that. They teach us how not to be. They teach us to love what is right even more…I think. Plus…their deeds are not forgotten. We all reap what we sow.

        Liked by 1 person

        • In the 30 years that I have been in business, 20 owning my own company, I have meet many many people that operate this way. I determined a long time ago that they don’t have a conscience. They are wired differently. They see life, theirs and others differently than I do. Sadly, now when I hear “you can trust me I am a Christian” “or “we don’t need a contract I am a Christian” I don’t walk I run. The guy that stiffed me, a deacon (or elder whatever they call it) in one of the BIG downtown church’s. He died a slow and horrible death. I was not happy about the way he died, I found no joy in it but I and others that had very similar business dealings with him (there were a lot of us) always wondered……

          Liked by 2 people

          • dawnmarie says:

            Yup. I run also. I have had it with people using Jesus for financial and political gain.

            At some point, the conscience dies. I wonder how many times you have to screw people before that happens. Then there are narcissists who never had one to begin with. I think most religious leaders and politicians fall into this category. Best place for them I guess. They get stroked egos, volunteer servants, power over the the conscience of people…shoot…that old pope thinks he is here in place of Jesus! Talk about a narcissist!

            Liked by 1 person

      • dawnmarie says:

        I am also amazed by the desire people have to work till the day they die just making money hand over fist. How much money do you need? Why are there 75 year olds who won’t just rest? I get that being a CEO is good for the ego and expensive things are nice, and having power over people must be exhilarating…but my gosh people! There is a whole world out there that we can’t see and if you miss that, you are missing the point of life.

        Your story about it being more expensive to sue then just take the loss seems to be the way of the money game. The pharmaceutical companies are notorious for it. If a drug makes 20 billion in profit, paying out 10 billion in lawsuits for wrongful death and injury is peanuts. It has nothing to do with serving and helping others and everything to do with profit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” – Michael Corleone (The Godfather)

          Liked by 1 person

        • I keep getting you all stirred up, I need to write you a happy post. What do you want me to write about 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            I know it might seem that way, but I really am not stirred up. I just have strong opinions about oppression and justice and the conscience. My words may seem harsh, but it is only because they are harsh as a matter of fact, not emotion. I have separated myself from the things that I want no part in…as much as I can anyway. As I get older it becomes easier to observe and learn rather than knee jerk emotionally react.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            I could use a turtle story.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I hope to find one or two this weekend while I ride my bicycle. Saw none yesterday evening which surprised me but it was a BIG bunny, turkey and black snake ride which is always exciting. I love seeing turkey’s and rabbit’s. It reminds me their are still wild spots in our world, hidden from view. Love you Dawn, love your passion.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            Where do you put the turtles when you find them? Do you just scoot them to the other side of the road or do you take some home? My turtle Fred, came to me. I wanted a turtle, I was talking to God one day and said you know…a turtle would be cool. I used to have box turtles as a kid. We would find them on road trips and take them home. The next week my dog was playing with a rock…but it wasn’t a rock. It was a box turtle!!!! My back yard is cinder block walls so I have no idea how he got in but he did. Must have walked up the street, across the driveway around to the back of the house to find the one gate that has a 3 inch gap in the bottom…so my turtle is a good gift. I believe that with all my heart.

            Don’t get mushy on me now!

            Liked by 1 person

          • I have a yard full of dogs, so no, I don’t bring them home. I take them to the side of the road they were headed. I see a lot of turtle pancakes on the road and it makes me VERY sad that I wasn’t there to help. If the Buddha is listening I want to come back as a turtle, sounds like I need to come back as Dawn’s turtle 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            Lol….I have never heard anyone wish to be a turtle. Though a friend of mine told me the other day jokingly that she wanted to be a dog living by the ocean with a good owner.

            I have dogs too, so I had to build a turtle pen. I made it about 80 sq feet under a chaste tree with wild flowers. He seems happy enough. Takes him forever to get from one side of the pen to the other, so I hope his world is big enough for him.

            Thinking back, I remember my husband and I talking about how one day we should get a turtle, but we needed to build a pen for it first….we didn’t get that chance! The pen became needed quick and unexpectedly.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hey it beats coming back as a rat or a possum (just a bigger rat). I believe souls are simply recycled, everything has a soul. My big Rhodesian Ridgeback has a great old soul. I am convinced he is having deep, meaningful thoughts when he isn’t licking his butt, though that activity may be deep and meaningful as well who knows.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            My hope is to return to my God and to stand before him unashamed. I want him to say, well done…now go smell the flowers! Pet the pink dolphins. Play with the animals. Explore! Learn for all eternity the mysterious workings of the universe.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I believe there are different paths to the same destination “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – H.H. the Dalai Lama XIV

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            If I asked for directions to Taos and was given directions to Detroit and ended up there, I might be a bit peeved. I think there is a loyalty issue involved in all this and a world we can’t see nor understand very well. It is a dangerous place with forces we can’t overcome or understand ourselves. If our loyalties are to the one who made you , He has provided a way of escape from death of the body and soul. Everyone makes their own choice whether that is true or not and despite what we believe or don’t, things are as they are and our beliefs mean nothing in light of what is. By loyalty, I mean to the One, not loyalty to a church institution that makes up crap for the sake of making up crap and looking smart and righteous while doing it or to a group of people or a political ideology or government system. In the end, everything you think and do is between you and your maker…no one else. And if I am wrong, then shame on me. Feel sorry for me because my hope will never be realized and I should be pitied for my ignorance.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            Don’t get me started on that caste system of the Llama. That idea of people being under extreme oppression and pain and starvation and poverty and filth because they deserve it from their other life is horrible. Though, it is a great way to justify letting those in need stay in need.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Damn, I set you off again :). You follow your path and I won’t judge you if you allow me to follow mine without judgement or trying to convert or convince me that your “Way” is the only “Way”. Deal?

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            I don’t try to convert. Not my job. I just try to be honest about my views and have no problem with take it or leave it. As far as judging, that is not my place either. I can only hope to control my own mind and actions. I am told to and desire to love God and love my neighbor and I don’t do that well. So I keep trying, and failing and trying again. We all have our own path and destinies and it is not my job to determine that.

            I do love to learn about different belief systems though. It is one of my favorite things! I also like to talk to people about their belief systems because it helps me to understand my own…I’m a rebel and a rule breaker when it comes to no politics and no religious talk.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Well you have read my blog, and what do I write about religion, politics, cycling and turtles. Guess I am not very well rounded person. I am going to branch out babes, boobs, burgers and beers :).

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            Lololol…but your blog is so interesting the way it is! The market of boobs, beer, babes and burgers is saturated.

            Liked by 1 person

          • “The market of boobs, beer, babes and burgers is saturated.” Now, that may be the title of my next post. Can’t wait to do a Google image search for boobs, beer, babes and burgers. Love it!

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            There should be no shortage of material for you to use!

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            Are you familiar with Michael Heiser? He has some good stuff about the unseen realm. His take makes the religious folk squirm.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            He is considered by many to be a false teaching heretic. You might like him, might not.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I read a lot, very wide and vast topics and religious view points. I have a child working on her Ph.D. in religious studies who feeds me with new ideas, new books, new thoughts and new adventures. I like to think I started her on her path though she has a more traditional theology in her Christian beliefs than I do. Keep in mind, I attend a very traditional, though progressive protestant Church every Sunday, EVERY Sunday. I teach Sunday classes, I write program covers, I can be just as traditional as the other 7 billion out there, I can quote song and verse with the best of them, I just chose not to be because…….I got questions, and I want to find my own answers.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            That is neat about your daughter. I don’t understand why you however would want to attend a club that at its fundamental core rejects what you believe? It seems like pretending. Am I misunderstanding? Or, are you hoping to perhaps…gasp…convert others to your way of thinking….in a non judge mental way of course. Giggle. It sounds like I am poking the bear, but I am genuinely interested. Help me to understand your thinking on this. I stay far away from churches. I had my fill until I was 18 and made my own decision to run and never go back.

            Like

          • Why would you want to poke such a loving, caring & compassionate bear such as myself? I attend the “club” because I love the people in this “club” and have for 30 years. I was married here raised my children here and if I am lucky will die here. Pretty simple. I don’t reject anything but hate and WE don’t teach hate in this “club”.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            So you go to see the people you love. I understand that social aspect. Are you able to communicate to them that you don’t agree with the core tenets of the faith or do you have to keep that under wraps? I’m thinking about what it would be like for say a Muslim or a Jew to teach about Jesus in a Southern Baptist church…including his death and resurrection when they don’t believe it. That has got to be hard! I couldn’t do it. I left the pharmacy profession because I didn’t believe in what I was doing. I would teach my students with my mind just cringing thinking about all the problems with the studies we use to make medical decisions and protocols, the evidence that gets buried, the profit, the number of people who die ever year as a result of the drugs I was so faithful to. I did it for 20 years and one day, my conscience could not take it anymore. That is a whole nuther subject. Not saying there isn’t a need for medicine. Absolutely not saying that, but when we get to the point where we create a poison and then make up a disease to use it for or we consider normal things disease and make people believe they need our products…we are no longer practicing healing. We are sales men.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Still poking? Sharpening your stick? I didn’t use the term social, and honestly that description of my “club” doesn’t resonate with me. The walls of my church are filled with people, people who think for themselves, people who live different lifestyles, people who would not be welcomed at other Church’s because of their lifestyle choices, people who do not walk goose step in a straight line absorbing and regurgitating a doctrine that is static. Christians, Jews, Buddhist, agnostics, gays, straights, rich, poor, young and old all fill the pews of my Church. These are smart, intelligent people who are comfortable with themselves and their beliefs. They willingly accept the challenges of who they are and where they are in the world. My view, faith and beliefs should be fluid. If they don’t move, if they don’t breathe, if they don’t hug, if they don’t feel, hurt, love or cry then, then for me that is the definition of being dead and there can be nothing worse than a living person with dead beliefs a dead faith. Maybe you can’t conceive of how I move among these people, but, and I am going to poke, that might be an issue you need to overcome and figure out. I tell people if your faith and beliefs make you a kinder, caring and more compassionate person to EVERYONE (actions not just words) and not to just the members of your “club”, then go in peace. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to offend you. I only wanted to understand what the experience for you is like. It sounds like you have a group of people that you love and who love you and I think that is something that many want and don’t have which is what social means to me. When you actually make it a point to see the people you love every week because you feel they are part of your family and community and you want to be around them, it is a rare thing. I most definitely didn’t mean to come across like boobs, babes and beer social. Not at all. Again, I am sorry.

            Liked by 1 person

          • No offense taken, just making the point and poking back :). I am at an age where there is less road ahead of me than behind me. I have reached the point in life that I understand that nothing is etched in stone, everything is impermanent and that everything includes beliefs that so many believe are mountains that must climb because that is the only view available to them. The world is filled with views. I don’t agree with all of them but I would never judge someone because of their view unless, their view from the mountain is the view of hate.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            I would agree with that. I’m very glad you were not offended. My heart hurt and now it doesn’t. Thank you for that.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ahhhhhh, I told you I am loving, caring & compassionate bear, with very thick skin :). You are obviously a very smart and challenging woman, all good things in my opinion and just the kind of person I like to be around. Glad your heart is better, keep it beating!

            Liked by 1 person

          • dawnmarie says:

            I love wild life. Fun!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Marisa Ulrich says:

    As a wife of a small business owner-a craftsman-this just makes me see red. We have blessedly never been in this position on this level, but we have had moments of unfairness at the hands of a big businessman-he was trying to cut corners on a rental property where my husband knew it was unsafe to. So, when my husband refused, he let him go and spread rumors to damage the business. But, indeed, it all comes back around. The businessman eventually had to eat crow a while back when he realized my husband was the best and most honest guy he could get.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. kutukamus says:

    I guess fence, like hair, is—after all, ‘fragile’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Belinda O says:

    “It’s just business” is usually another way of saying “someone is getting screwed over by someone with no moral center.”

    Liked by 1 person

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