I ran into a friend today who’d been through a terrible car accident a couple of years ago.
Through the vagaries of insurance weirdness, she received a lot of money from one insurance company, which she then was supposed to pay to another insurance company. She understands this and expected it and it’s no problem.
But for two years, the insurance company she’s supposed to pay has never contacted her (as they’re supposed to do). No word, and $20,000 just sat in her savings account.
This weekend, she got a letter from a lawyer saying that this is the second notice that she’s supposed to pay the dough.
Here’s what upsets her:
1. She never got the first notice and doesn’t like to have people act as though she’s trying to get away with something. (She has no debt and perfect credit, etc.)
2. She thought that that chapter of her life was over. It was really horrendous, this accident, and after two years, she’s only recently putting it behind her.
3. She sort of figured she’d get to keep the money after all this time with no contact from the insurance company.
Ok, so I listened to her and agreed that it’s annoying and depressing, and that psychology can be a bitch. Your body heals (if you’re lucky, which she was), but the mind can screw you up for a long time. I was a good friend for most of the train ride.
Then she said something about how the insurance company is loaded, and she’s not, and she’d been through so much, and it just seems as though she should keep the money.
Here’s where I screwed up, I think. She knows, and knows that I know, that the money isn’t hers. Even if suffering should earn money (obviously a shaky proposition), it should earn it from the person who caused the suffering.
But since we both knew all that, I think my job as a friend was probably to nod a lot and continue to say that it sucks. Instead, as we all know, I got all rational.
1. The money belongs to them, clearly.
2. On paper, you’re complaining about them letting you keep it longer than you should have been able to. You gained something from interest, for example.
I did say, “on paper.”
Anyway, then we parted ways and I felt like a jerk.
This isn’t new for me, of course, since I’m always pointing out the rational as though the emotional doesn’t count. Or, rather, I DO mention the emotional, but once you point out the rational, it sort of feels as though you discounted the emotional. Even when I didn’t!
So. In real life, people would have gotten sick of having Spock around, I think. I’m sure they get sick of me. Waah.
I really suck at this stuff, too. This is why guys should NEVER complain (or try to stick around) when their wives or girlfriends want to go out with other women. Men are just not wired to sympathize. We’re wired to either fix the problem or assign the blame or otherwise seek to deepen our understanding of the situation (with an eye toward one of the two preceding goals). A woman tells me she had a bad day at work, I want to understand what happened, figure out who screwed up, and tell her how to avoid it next time. She just wanted me to say “aww, that sucks, you were totally right to feel that way”. I can’t do that!
Mars, Venus, etc.
But I have made the same mistake when talking to guys, too. JB and I were talking about a lawsuit that a girl close to him is involved in.
Me: Hmm. Interesting legal question about who’s right here.
Him: No. She’s right. Go away.