Other Peoples’ Money

Several days ago, something went minorly wrong with something that I am responsible for. There are others who depend on this matter working well, but they are not financially responsible for it, whereas I am responsible to pay for it, if necessary. In the end, the people dependant on it spent a rather minute amount of effort to correct the issue for free and suggested that I spend my own money to solve it immediately. I took a bit of time to prepare, but when I addressed the problem, I solved it in literally several seconds with no real effort.

My initial response to this was anger. I felt that people were abundantly willing to spend my money with the slightest provocation, but hesitant to spend even so much as moderate effort to save me money. I made the assumption that this is because they do not respect my money. Or me, for that matter.

Response #1

It was easy to fume about this. Everyone I spoke to for the next while heard about my frustration, as well as knowing exactly the names of those who bothered me. This was a group of sins all at once. Anger, lack of forgiveness, and gossipping. I have tried to avoid these in this post, including avoiding making clear those who bothered me by speaking in very general terms. Gentle Readers, you may feel free to tell me if I failed in my attempt to do this.

A day later, whilst working my courier job, I had some trouble finding a free parking spot near the area that I would be picking up the item. I quickly jumped to the conclusion that I could spend a mere fifty cents on a parking meter and just charge my client for that extra cost. Soon enough I realized that I could park for free for an hour at a nearby parking garage. Here’s the thing: I was already planning on that for parking an hour later near the same spot for lunch with my mother. Apparently, I am far more willing to spend my client’s money than my own money for even the same thing.

Fortunately, I had this thought before wasting my client’s money. I parked for free at the nearby ramp. Yet, this had me thinking about my similarity to those who were willing to waste my money. They are not bad people any more than I am. I know I am a good, compassionate person, but I am apparently equally willing to waste my clients’ money as others are willing to waste mine.

Response #2

What do I do with this? I know not to shame myself over it. I’m not a bad person for this. Perhaps, what I need to do is be more forgiving of others that I perceive as wronging me. They are just as good as I am. Between all these events and this writing, someone pointed out to me that those who were willing to waste my money were paying for me to upkeep their system, so they may see it as spending indirectly their own money than mine.

Another way I intend to apply these events to my life is to take extra care to not waste others’ money. I now know that all people are more inclined to do that, including myself. Not to be self-righteous, but with this new information, I can live a better, more virtuous life. I am always looking to improve myself, so I’m glad for this opportunity to do so.

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5 thoughts on “Other Peoples’ Money

  1. Very introspective and wise, as always.

    I guess if I’d give any feedback it’s this: try not to beat yourself up. Even for venting to others about it. To call such thing a “sin” is, in my opinion, throwing the term around rather loosely. I don’t believe in sin to begin with (obviously), but to call something a sin when it’s processing what’s happened so you can feel better and get feedback seems to be a stretch. Go easy on yourself.

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    1. I definitely agree with you that the word “sin” is very powerful. Perhaps it conjures in people’s minds hellfire and damnation and such. I love etymology and so I know that it translates to “missing the mark”, i.e. “imperfection”. As a lover of old words and old traditions, I find myself using terms like “sin”, “heretic”, and others according to their original meaning rather than the vile, epic insults they have come to be today. I wonder: from your perspective, does using the old language like sin get in the way of my message in a way that “imperfection” would not? Also, would you feel that the word “imperfect” is appropriate for my venting, or do you have another way of looking at it than I do?

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      1. I feel like it definitely gets in the way, depending on what you’re trying to communicate. If imperfection rather than actual sin is what you’re trying to convey, then imperfection seems more straightforward, less harsh, and more realistic. Of course, I don’t believe in such a thing as sin (which you know, of course) so that word is an issue for me anyway, but your blog is also obviously coming from the christian perspective, so it’s unfair of me to come here expecting anything different. It just seemed like a harsh term for a simple mistake. And even then, it’s arguable whether or not venting about something or someone frustrating you is an actual mistake.

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      2. I see what you are saying here. I love the old language, but several have pointed out to me that my love of old language can get in the way of my actual goal of communication. I love etymology, but not everyone I talk to feels the same way. The word “sin” is a hangup for a lot of people, and there’s a lot of history that led to this. I thank you for the reminder to use language in its original purpose which is communication, rather than as an intellectual toy.

        As to whether venting is a mistake, I feel that it depends on how it is done. To share a frustration and search for a way to cope is certainly not wrong, mistaken, or sinful, as far as I can tell. Yet, I see the harm that gossiping does. People have gossiped about me to others and it hurt me a great deal. I don’t want to do that to others. I wonder what the balance is. I suspect that keeping specifics known only to a few is best. Perhaps the balance is to share only with those who can provide valuable input rather than to broadcast it. I feel that the latter could even be used as a passive aggressive technique if it becomes known to those one is angry with. Is this how you would find balance or would your approach be different? What are your thoughts on gossip, if any?

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      3. You’re very wise. Everything you’ve said makes sense. I’d definitely agree with your approach to venting. Admittedly, there are times I bitch about situations/people just because I get burnt out. I’m sure you’ve heard it plenty of times. But your way of handling it sounds more productive and respectable.

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