DO THE RIGHT THING
Not doing the right thing does not necessarily mean you are doing the wrong thing.
There is no question we are all capable and all do the wrong thing in different ways and at different times in all sorts of different situations. They can be self-destructive, hurtful to others or merely moments when we put our needs before someone else’s. They can be as awful as robbing a bank to as seemingly minor as creeping into a parking spot we know someone else was waiting for first.
We almost always know when we have done the wrong thing and how we proceed from there is a conscious choice. Sometimes we want to make right on the wrong and sometimes for a variety of reasons we let it slide.
I do believe that people keep score. I know I do and I think the universe does. When I have snuck into that other person’s parking spot (I admit it, I have done that – Come on we all have at least once. Or taken someone’s cab…) inevitably something will ding me back. I will lock my keys in the car or lose my cell phone or slam my finger in the door of the shop I am running into. The universe is saying “Tracey, you did not do the right thing.”
This week in my life there were four instances where people didn’t really do the wrong thing but two of them chose not to do the right thing.
One case was a personal situation where someone did something a year ago that unintentionally that hurt my feelings. I didn’t say or do anything about it. It was around the time of Blake’s death and my emotional plate was too full. In time I decided to just do nothing. There are situations when my method of conflict resolution is to throw a verbal grenade into someone’s computer; but this time I opted for silence. There are instances when doing the right thing is as simple as doing nothing. A move it has taken me decades to master.
This week the person called me out of the blue, a year late. I like this person. I have had decades of friendship with him. I did not want to lose that but I was also bruised by the behavior. So when he called I calmly (also not my strong suit) told him how I felt, why I felt it and that while I liked him at this moment I was too hurt to engage. The next day a long, lovely email apologizing arrived. He really didn’t know he had done anything. I know that to be true, and when confronted he did the right thing. All is now fine.
The two other situations were business related. One person owes me an email as they flaked on something. No biggie – two lines the night of the event would have been doing the right thing. Two lines the next morning would have been doing the right thing. It would have taken ninety seconds. It was over a week ago. I’m not going to do anything about it as I won’t jeopardize a business contact over it. The person didn’t do anything awful but they did not do the right thing.
And then there is a case of a retail operation I do a lot of business with. A problem arose, and there were two ways to handle it. I won’t come out and say they did the wrong thing, again, but I will say they did not do the right thing. And in this case it will cost them my business.
And then really the do the right thing winner of the week is amusingly the youngest of the foursome. He is only 18. He is the son of a good friend. He has been teaching Lucy and me tennis several times a week this summer. We booked several classes the week before he took off for college. He is a very focused kid and tries and succeeds in doing a lot. He really had no way of knowing how much prep was going to be involved in leaving for school. He had to cancel two classes at the last minute. I understood his situation but at the same time Lucy really looks forward to her classes with him. I hated picking her up from camp and saying he canceled. The second time it happened I wrote him an email and said I think for the next ten days you will not be able to do everything you need to do to leave and do the classes. I don’t want to have Lucy let down and I think this is a case where you have bitten off more than you can chew. So get ready for school and hopefully we can pick it up next summer.
Again, none of this is life threatening stuff, just daily events and the choices they carry.
But he really did the right thing. He emailed me and said he didn’t want to leave Lucy like that with just a memory of his canceling and going off, so before he left he wanted to give her one last lesson for free. This was so doing the right thing. Not because it was free, because he did it. He did the right thing for him and for Lucy. I will remember this. Lucy will remember this and he knew he was doing the right thing and feels like he left with everything on good terms.
So the DO THE RIGHT THING AWARD this week goes to Logan Langberg.
It’s easier to do the right thing and that little voice inside usually tells us what it is. We don’t always listen. I know I don’t and I always end up regretting it.