Relating Bad Contractors to Bad Attorneys

Have you been asked to understand what parents are going through when trying to get through family conflict?   What happens when someone you know enters the legal system?

It’s hard to relate if you haven’t been through it, and you may not really want to know…but what is going on where you can’t see has led us into a crisis situation, so please see if this short story gives you some insight:

“Suddenly the weeds along the property line grew thicker and getting taller.  The two neighbors who had once worn a path bare between their back doors had stopped speaking.

Flashing back a few months David stared at the spot where they used to stand and talk about the market and their son’s game stats.

On this cold January day that spot was now shadowed by the cement truck backing up to where the foundation was being poured for the fence about to go up between them.  They decided it was time for some privacy.  The good times shared in open spaces were now lost thanks to an argument he could barely remember.

Pause here for a moment and consider how you handle “Let’s go our separate ways.”

You have options, just like David and his neighbor did.

David’s neighbor suggested an open fence that would create a boundary and give some privacy, but not block them from waving hello or throwing a ball back over the fence.

What happened next is that David considered his options, and went with the advice that matched his emotions.

Option A:

David listened to his neighbor’s advice and talked to the contractor who gave them a reasonable price on a lightly stained wood fence and some shrubs.  There were even a couple of trees mixed in that would bloom within a couple of years.

He could see them a year or so out, one sitting on the porch reading, while the other hummed that annoying song while grilling the same steaks as always.  Not so bad…

Well, that was wishful thinking.

Option B:

David also listened to the contractor who heard about their disagreement and saw that David was still fuming.

He validated David’s feelings of loss, but reassured him that once the concrete wall was in place that his neighbor would regret ever trying to “win” that argument.

David allowed the concrete wall to get poured, taking satisfaction in his neighbor’s shock and dismay.  He smirked.  So his red-faced neighbor brought in another contractor carrying that coiled wire to add to the top of the wall. To heck with the shrubs and allowing a baseball to get returned over the fence.  What ball?  There would be no more playing out here!

Within days their yards shrank in size and the concrete wall expanded.  The sharp wire atop the hideous gray wall sparkled in the sunlight as a reminder that there was no going back.  But David told himself that he was fine with that; he had gotten his point across, and his neighbor appeared filled with regret and confusion.  The bills kept coming but at this point David wasn’t sure what else needed to be done with the wall.  He only saw that more trucks and material kept showing up.  Contractor John repeatedly reassured him, as he patted David on the shoulder in a fatherly way, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back…it will be the best wall you’ve ever seen.”

Nothing seemed to get better, only worse.  The bills grew while David felt smaller.  There was no end in sight, he still felt hurt and angry, and now there was no chance of talking to his neighbor about where to draw the line. David realized he was confused, even sick to his stomach.

No way, though, was David going to be the first one to call it quits!  He had gone too far to admit this overdone wall was a bad idea.  And besides, that barbed wire his neighbor wanted on top of the wall?  What an insult!

Months later David was jolted out of bed by flashing lights and sirens from the ambulance taking away his neighbor.   Apparently the stress had hit home, but David wasn’t informed about what was happening, and he was afraid to ask.  He did notice an opened envelope that had blown onto his driveway.  He read the note inside with a little guilt and dropped it when he saw that it was his neighbor’s writing, telling the contractor he was fired for putting up that barbed wire without permission.

Another few months went by, and the next thing David knew there were two For Sale signs out front.  The wall was still unfinished, and the contractors were nowhere to be found.  Only the debris was left.”

Please ask the person who showed you this story of two neighbors to learn what it can be like when two people turn to the wrong lawyers to resolve a family dispute.

This story just involved two people growing apart as neighbors, building a fence, hiring contractors, then realizing the damage done from their mistakes.  But did they make these mistakes on their own?  What if there were kids involved?  What did the kids see and how were they impacted? 

What if there had been the right mediator and counselors to help these parties see the best path – – how to make Option A their reality?

 

 

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