Back in the early 1980’s I taught a University of Maine adult education class on real estate practices.
At the time you needed the practices class which highlighted the day to day of being a Maine real estate agent. To get your salesman or broker’s ticket. With courses taught by an attorney for the law, and appraiser for the valuation end of listing, peddling property listings part of the three course process.
One night before class started, while folks were filing in to pick their same seat as last session, one older lady had a major melt down. Each week she complained about not needing to be in the class. Looked for sympathy. But had let her real estate license lapse and the state thought differently. Said attend or else cease and desist the desire to be a Maine real estate agent. Find another line of work.
Always putting on the Ritz, dressed to the nines.
Extremely over dressed for class. More dolled up looking like ready to go out on the town and paint it red. This particular night, while wearing a sheer, frilly blouse with way way too many front buttons unemployed, not working. A gentleman from Mapleton accidently bumped, spills his coffee. A few drops land on her dry clean only expensive blouse that did not come from Kmart, Ames (pronounced in Maine AIM-zezzzzz) or Woolco.
Not losing the entire cup or even a tiny fraction when she suddenly turned around and ran in to the gentleman. Who pulled off a remarkable Columbia bean elixir save, recovery. While negotiating up the rows of seats to plant his keester in the one behind her. No No. Just a few drops was the claim if any at all were shed on her clothing in the java bump that she initiated. Foul was whistled shrilly. Wrongful doing air raid sirens sounded. Call in the coffee police. File a report. Put up the yellow do not cross police crime scene tape. Heads are going to roll.
Normally when a mistake is made, and this cup carrying class mate apologized, offered to pay for her blouse to be dry cleaned or replaced, then you expect things to settle down. Not in this case. Miss Snarky proceeded to ask him in the room full of large eyes and stalled midstream conversations how he could be so stupid. What was wrong with him was barked over and over.
You could silently feel the sway of the room when no side was picked in the mishap at the onset.
The boat listing to port. To suddenly the entire class was feeling badly for Mr Coffee. Wearing his hush puppy tie ups. Because it was an honest mistake, if any java, of the cup of Joe was actually spilled. And if it was he had sincerely, emphatically showed he was truly sorry. All apologetic beside himself. With sincerity written all over his face and his words to right a wrong being obvious to the rest in the real estate class room night session. Other classmate intervene to remind “he said he was sorry”, “let it go”. It was an honest mistake.
The powder keg, blown way out of proportion episode made me realize why juries award ridiculously large damage settlements. Sometimes they hate big companies that come out as greedy. Chasing the almighty dollar. If no remorse was shown, if extreme negligence is apparent without a shadow of a doubt. But also why folks get off the hook and not just on technicalities. Because of the way the people in the trial present, handle themselves. What is expected in society and when it is obvious the norms, values and what’s fair is out of whack? We all judge fairness based on what should happen with an honest mistake but what if it was our ox getting gored? Feel the same way? How situations get exploited, heading down a different rabbit trail.
The belle of the ball, over dressed with teetering tall sequined high heels was wet hen upset.
Could not let it go. The pressure cooker was whistling, steaming she’s gonna blow. Her dander up, ears back, teeth bared, showing in a grimace, snarl. You know who was about to be kicked, bitten. The personal attack approach left abandoned “the seeking sympathy from the class” reaction to her plight. This misdeed, tragedy, quandary instead of soliciting the class to join her cause, did the opposite. You could not help but feel sorry for the student just trying to take his seat behind her. The sprinkle spillage could not take on the epic proportions, draw any similarities to the sideways oil tanker one off the coast in Valdez, Alaska. Sorry.
Public opinion, is there an honest mistake made any more?
An honest mistake is unintentional, one not made with malice or any forethought.
You are being honest when you say I am sorry. It was a mistake admitted. And you don’t hide from any other intentional agenda or sheer reckless malice. Ah, and that leads us to the topic of forgiveness, situational ethics. Easier said than done it seems. Made any honest mistakes lately? How about everyone around you? Do they still happen in a world that has shifted, thinks more about me now than others?
Maine, big state, lots of special spaces, places to figure things out. Hear yourself think.