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#97: A Question of Character

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Recently, a neighbor had a mild dispute with a landscaper. The neighbor had been complaining about how much time it was taking him to care for his yards. Then, one day, he waved down a landscaper who did business in the neighborhood, told him he was tired of cutting his grass and asked the landscaper to start doing it for him. The man, Joe, of Joe's Professional Landscaping Services, agreed to add the neighbor to his route.

The next week Joe and his crew appeared and in no time had the tall grass under control. He presented his bill to the neighbor who complained that his bushes hadn't been trimmed, that the front yard hadn't been edged and that neither the front nor the rear yard had been weed whacked.

Joe answered that he had been been hired only to cut the grass and repeated the complaint the neighbor had given him, that he was tired of mowing his yards.

Sounds like a classic case out of contract law in law school, and may be.

The neighbor claimed that Joe advertised his company as a professional landscaping business and as a professional Joe should have explained what was and what was not included in his services and the cost for each option. Joe countered by saying he was professional and did exactly what he was emphatically hired to do -- cut the grass.

It was a situation ripe for becoming nasty. But it didn't. Both men began laughing and agreed it was not a big deal, simply a misunderstanding. Joe's crew edged and trimmed the yards and the bushes and carted away the trimmings. In return, he was paid in full for all of his services. Both men agreed on what the client expected and what the landscaper would provide, shook hands and went about their lives.

Joe is now in his third year of handling my neighbor's yard care and has benefited from the neighbor's referral of other homeowners.

What this story reminds me of is how important a person's word used to be and how frequently disputes could easily be resolved when both sides were people of character and peacefully agreed on a solution.

Today, I see and experience many examples of people, even close friends, who fail to demonstrate the old saying that a person's word is their bond. From minor things such as failing to call when promised to not answering a business email in a timely manner. Minor irritations perhaps, but when they cost another person wasted time and effort and make others feel unappreciated, they soon become major problems.

So, to end this long tale, let's ask ourselves what others say about us. Are their observations positive? When they think of us and talk about us and see us, is there any question in their minds that we are people of character?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • TSABONIS
    it is nice to sort it all out up front ...
    4165 days ago
  • PEPPERLEAH
    Excellent blog, Lou. I think of people I know; some I know with all certainty will do what they say. Then there are those that I know have no intention of following through. I believe that people who know me know that I will do what I say I will do.
    4165 days ago
  • IUHRYTR
    Exactly. What I was trying to ask, perhaps in a confusing way, was can we hold our heads up high knowing we are people of character, whose word is our bond, that others respect. -- Lou
    4165 days ago
  • HOLLY1949
    I agree with Joy,and You .... If I had a business I would be concerned what my clients thought of me or if I had a job I would be concerned what my boss thought of me, but I am a housewife and I agree with Joy.... I don't want to go off the deep in worrying over much about people's opinions of me , most important is pleasing God and my opinion of myself.

    I think you are telling us to have some values (character) and be concerned if we are living up to them and I agree whole hearted. Not so much that people will think well of us but that we will be able to look at our self in the mirror or go to bed with a clean conscious.
    4165 days ago
  • SPARKLOVE
    Hummmm Well, my life is full of negative people so I don't think they would make a positive observation of me. LOL

    I feel Christians should try to live up to God's standards and we should examine our self on a regular basis in case we need to make some adjustments.

    I don't concern myself too much with what others think of me....I am more concern with pleasing God, and what I think of myself. My own opinion of me is more important than others opinion of me. That is because I have many in my life who are imposable to please no matter what I do.

    When you are in business you have to concern yourself with what your customers think of course, or in your job, what your boss thinks .

    When your a single Women, if you don't date , your neighbors wonder if your a Lesbian and make jokes. If you do date, they call you other names. I don't get into what people say about me, because I have found we live in a very unfair, judgemental society and once upon a time I use to fret over and worry about what others thought of me and when someone would repeat a unkind remark to me I would cry for hours ....today I am more concerned about what God thinks of me and what I think of myself.
    4165 days ago
  • YATMAMA
    Lou, I'm starting to suspect you have our house bugged! We had THIS very conversation with our son, TOO, this week! A man's word is reall all he has that's worth anything, and once it's rendered worthless, it's difficult if not impossible to rectify that opinion. Thanks for yet another great blog. When they publish the great book of SparkBlogs, yours will all be in it!!
    4165 days ago
  • TRUFFLE5
    I hope people think good things about me. Good blog.
    4165 days ago
  • DAWNWS1
    Very insightful and so true! I hope I always live my life in such a way that those around me know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say, and that I will always keep my word.
    4165 days ago
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