On Free Lunches and what’s right?

An allegory about the free lunch and how being wrong can bring you closer to being right…

I can’t count the amount of people I’ve met who share one very distinct characteristic. They’re indecisive. Starting from general things like the sweater they want to wear to the restaurant they want to eat in (imagine asking them to choose from the menu….). People who are indecisive are indecisive about everything. Unfortunately for many, this often costs them a better job when an unexpected opportunity comes along. It costs them the image of being a “go to” person when a problem arises and sometimes this lack of spontaneity costs them just some mind-blowing sex. Indecisiveness drives me crazy, but this isn’t what this post is about.

You see, I tried to dig deeper into why people are afraid to make a quick judgment call one way or the (Samual L. Jackson voice) muthaf*cking other. What I found out was quite basic and simple. Apparently the reason people can’t decide whether it’s black and blue or white and gold is because they are simply afraid to make the wrong decision. And this is what this post IS about. Let me tell you a little about being right…

I want to throw it out there that in most situations in life, there is no right or wrong. Don’t start hating just yet, obviously murder is wrong (or is it) and Thou shall not x 10. I’m not talking about generally accepted social norms here. What I am talking about is whenever you find yourself in a situation where you see things one way and that respectable gentleman (for a lack of a better word) across the room from you, sees them in another.

In these situations, and these happen to me all the time, you will find there is no right or wrong. What there is, however, is a lack of balance between two people whether it be in money, power, respect, charisma or you name it. And it is he who has more, who dictates what in the end is considered right. Don’t agree with me? Dry your eyes. I didn’t either, at first. But I’ve seen it so often, I’ve kind of learned to accept it. I’ve seen the most absurd decisions being made. I mean totally ape-shit crazy calls that I’d never make because they defy all logic. I’m talking decisions that cost these people A LOT of money, in return only giving them the benefit of proving a point. The kind that are designed to drag you through the mud a little just so that they can pat themselves on the back and show how serious they are about their principles.

Can you call such decisions right? It’s hard to do so. But you have to learn to deal with the fact that they are. Here’s a story for you, better yet, an allegory.

I was running a business which was earning one of my partners quite a lot of money every year. We had a minor disagreement about the terms of the contract. Figuratively it was an argument regarding who should pay for lunch this time. As absurd as it sounds, that was roughly the cost we were arguing about. I said that I’ve paid for quite a few lunches already and as the restaurants we eat in keep getting more expensive, I’m afraid I couldn’t afford some of the future lunches we may have if he kept sticking me with the bill. My partner smiled and politely insisted I pay. So I did (hey, his company was worth it.) This time though, I went back to the office a lot less hungry but a lot more upset. I thought to myself, doesn’t he remember all the lunches I paid for already? often on my own initiative. Didn’t he hear me say that If I keep on paying for lunch we’ll end up in a situation where we could no longer eat lunch together? Finally, I confidently believed there is no way the money I earn him yearly could be forgone over the price of a damn Ribeye steak and a glass of Barbera D’Alba (I’m humble but got good taste.)

Right? Wrong. You see, when I sent my partner a note saying no more lunches, it was good while it lasted and so on, I expected him to request a meeting (hopefully not another lunch) to discuss the state of our union. At least that was my understanding of the right thing to do. Who would sacrifice all this money over the price of lunch? I’ll tell you who, someone who is a lot richer than you, like my partner just happened to be. You see for him the sum of money I was talking about was a drop in a bucket. For me it was an incomprehensible amount. This is where I lost already. A difference in perspective. When making a decision I looked at it from my understanding of the value of money. Not that I didn’t know my partner was already pretty well off. I knew. But I thought it’s still too hefty of a sum to just walk away from. But for him, it was a “yard-sale price” to teach me a lesson. So he replied to my letter by giving me a few months to pack my shit and find a new lunch partner. And the kicker is, apparently I’m the one who chose to go this way.

Was that the right call? I still find it hard to say yes. But all the history books will be in his favor. He will move on like nothing ever was and I will end up paying for this last supper, plus tip. Oh and most likely, I’ll be doing dishes. For a while.

I definitely don’t regret my decision because to be honest, them damn lunches were putting a dent in my pocket. I also found a few new lunch places and people willing to share their cost. I still don’t let them tip though, they never give enough.

I learned an important lesson that day about being right or wrong. It’s ONLY a matter of perspective and very often the perspectives will be very different. For some, teaching you a lesson and sticking to their principles is worth much more than any sum of money. For others, principles are sold to the highest bidder. The point is, you never know who you’ll end up dealing with. The one who wins the balance of power, is the one who’ll end up being right. Funny, I always wondered why they called it balance of power when power is NEVER in balance.

If you want to be right, don’t wonder forever on which choice to make. Make it. Fast. Start doing and stop overthinking. Understand, when you act you gain respect, you gain influence and power, you train charisma and over time you tip the scale in your favor. That’s how sometimes even being wrong brings you closer to being right. Tip the scale.

Oh and remember the golden rule, there are no free lunches.

M.B.

“War doesn’t determine who is right, only who is left”

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