Monday, March 9, 2015

On Fairness and What it Costs

So I helped a friend buy a house last year. After we closed, the agent for the other side claimed I was not entitled to get paid and held back my commission. After months of catting and mousing to no avail, we are set to face a panel of colleagues who will review the facts of our transaction history and determine whether I am entitled to be paid for my work.

I don't know if I will prevail, not because I have doubt about whether or not I am right. I am right. I don't know because sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and being right is nearly irrelevant. That doesn't bother me; it is what it is.

If I lose, it'll cost me the entire commission.

At one point, I had the option to settle. In fact, I still have that option. I could throw up my hands, give way to the entitled and the belligerent, and let 'em have what they want.

If I do that, I get paid some of what I'm owed, but not all. It's not like I couldn't use the money; I'm not working entirely for pleasure.

But something about just giving up tastes bad. So I asked my kids what they thought I should do. To a one they said I should do what is right, outcome be damned. They told me they were proud of me, would support me no matter what. Cue the music. It's easy to be an idealist when you don't have your name on the mortgage note.

So I'm at this crossroads - do what is fair? do what is easy? I look down the easy road and find nothing there for me - no honor, no satisfaction, no moment to share with my children. I look down the fair road and there is uncertainty, yes, but there is also clarity and purpose and alignment with my better self.

I might lose the entire thing. I don't care. When I'm done, no matter the final word, I'll sit with my kids and recount the day, maybe over a pizza, maybe over a more elegant dinner funded by my slightly more padded bank account.

The expense of pursuing fairness is worth every penny, just as the cost of injustice is far too great to accept.

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