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.