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Why Not Take the High Road? October 20, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Home, just general griping, mirth & woe, random stuff.
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A long, long time ago, I worked for a law firm downtown.

Actually, it was a satellite office of the main law firm, which was in downtown Newark, NJ.   As a matter of fact, the main firm was the firm Peeps worked for when I met him – that’s how we met.  (But that’s a story for another day – the “awww” factor is just too sweet for words.)  (Or not.)

And so, I worked in this office – there were two attorneys (partners), and two paralegals.  And that was it.

By “partners” I don’t mean “two guys who got along and worked together well.”  I mean there was “us” and there was “them.”  A pleasant atmosphere, to be sure.  (Not so much.)

Eventually, the two partners parted ways, and I was kind of in the middle of it.

“My” partner was the one forced out, while the other guy was, technically, senior.

The other guy offered to meet my guy in the parking garage – he “boxed in college.”

Seriously.  Grownup, educated men, these guys.

My guy just walked out.  He took the high road.

Then he phoned me and asked me to leave and help him open his own practice, which, of course, I did.

However, this isn’t a story about work.  It’s more a story about, I don’t know, good examples?  Being able to live with yourself?  Something like that.

There were several other incidences of pettiness and ugliness that I witnessed – possibly even criminal activity (or at the very least, some shockingly unethical behaviors for a lawyer), yet throughout that whole period, Mon Capitán simply said

“Why not take the high road?”

And so that’s what he did.  And that’s what I try to do, wherever possible.

Long-time readers will remember back last fall when I bought The Tank – I love my Volvo wagon.  But past experience has taught me that these higher-end imports?  When they need work, you need a second mortgage.  Or at least a higher credit limit on your Visa.

So, being the learn-from-my-mistakes kinda gal that I am,  I paid extra for a 2-year extended warranty for my used car.

Now before you scoff, know this.  The very first repair I had to make on my (used) BMW cost me more than this warranty did.   And I know that a Volvo isn’t likely to be any cheaper to repair than a BMW.  (Sometimes I suspect they just charge extra because they hate working on imports.)

A stitch in time.  Penny wise and pound foolish.  Whatever.

So.  I wrote the guy the check, and I drove out with my brand-new-to-me Tank, and all was good.

Or at least, all was good until the dashboard started lighting up like a Christmas tree.  I finally had enough of it and took the car to my old mechanic – the guy who took such good care of the BMW for so many years.

And he said, no problem, he works with all the warranty companies, and he’ll take care of everything.

Except there was one thing we didn’t count on.

My extended warranty – the one I paid extra for – never got filed by the dealer.

Yep, you read that right.

See, here’s the thing.

You know how you have a routine for how things get done?  You do this, then that, then the other?  You get into a kind of rhythm – and you juggle that routine for dozens (or hundreds) of files?  And if just one piece of the system is different, well, that throws the entire file into disarray.

Yeah, well,  it seems that, since I didn’t actually finance my car through the dealer, but rather, I brought a cashier’s check to him, he forgot to file the paperwork for the warranty – the warranty that he usually files when he files the financing documents.

And I’ve been driving around for close to a year, happily thinking I was covered under a warranty when, in fact, I wasn’t.  Which meant that the repairs that I thought were covered – that should have been covered – weren’t.

Why not take the high road?

I paid for this warranty.  I was entitled to it.

But it was a mistake – an honest mistake.  It’s not like I’ve never screwed up.

My mechanic (whom I’ve known for about 15 years now) was, understandably, livid.

Heck, I was livid!

I was faced with a sizable mechanic’s bill, a useless warranty, and a dealer who refused to deal with the mechanic.

Why not take the high road?

Ultimately, I paid the bill (thank you, magic plastic!), listened to the mechanic’s detailed explanation of just what had been wrong with my beautiful car, and I stopped by the dealership on the way home.

See, here’s the thing.

Wherever possible, I prefer to do business with my neighbors – with the small, local business around the corner – before dealing with a big conglomerate-type company.

But those small, local businesses?  They’re struggling to pay the bills just like the rest of us.  And they’ve got payroll to make so other people can pay the bills.

Do I really want to “stick it to ’em” because they made an honest mistake?

Why not take the high road?

So I talked to the owner, and he offered to provide a new (starting that date) 2-year warranty, and to pay for about 75% of what should have been covered in the first place.

Was it complete reimbursement for what I paid?  No.  But it was an additional year on my warranty, which is a plus.

Could I have dug my heels in and made his life miserable?  Sure.

Could I have contacted an attorney and made his life difficult?  Of course.

Could I have registered a complaint with the State and possibly really hurt him?  Absolutely.

But why?

Why NOT take the high road?



1. mazco34 - October 20, 2010

You could take the high road. The other person in the first part of the entry wouldn’t be that smart.

Hell, he couldn’t see the high road, since he’s not the most vertically gifted pillock in the world. 🙂

Well, Maz, don’t you think you might be a little bit biased? You know, from WAY up there and all? 😀

Seriously, though, the other guy – anyone heard anything about him lately? Meanwhile, “my” guy is doing OK – plus he’s got me to help out, so, well, there ya go.

Why not take the high road indeed.

2. Susan - October 20, 2010

I would be extremely ticked about the situation!! But I must say, I find your “high road” attitude quite refreshing, particularly coming as it does in our give-me-what’s-mine-or-I’ll-sue-the-pants-off-you society.
Go girl!!

Oh, thanks. But you DO know, though, that if I had any reason to think he’d deliberately tried to rip me off, it would have a completely story! 🙂

Anne - October 20, 2010

I have to agree with Susan. Especially since you are in the legal profession, you are “da man” for taking the high road. If I read it right, you’re only out 25% of the repairs (“only” being relative!), but get your 2 year warranty starting ASAP. For a small-town business, I think that sounds fairly reasonable, and I’m sure he’s awfully appreciative of your cooperation!!

Exactly – Basically, he covered 75% of the first year’s warranty, and gave me a third year. And, honestly, that third year is probably going to be worth more than the relatively small portion of the bill I got stuck with right now.

Plus, I hope we both went away from there with a respect for each other. And honestly, at this point in my life, a little respect goes a long way. 😉

3. Va-ROOM! « Dark Side of the Fridge - October 27, 2010

[…] if you remember the acquiring of the Tank, you definitely remember the FIXING of the Tank, don’t you?  I didn’t get a chance to go into much detail about what-all […]

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