The mystery of human deceit


It’s always good to be able to laugh at your own life; at the events, the people, the timing and such.  Sometimes there’s an event that could easily anger or frustrate you but if you can find a way to laugh it off you do yourself and everyone else a favor — and preserve your blood pressure!  I want to tell you a story about something that happened recently. I find it hilarious even though if I was someone else I might be quite upset.

I received an email from our RV Trader advert inquiring about our coach.  That was good, I thought. But, as we had already committed the coach to PPL Motor Homes in Houston I wasn’t free to make a deal — so I sent the party to them.

The next day I got another email — directly from the person — and not via the RV Trader message system.  I was buoyed because the person sounded seriously interested and I pursued the conversation.

Here is the story I got:

  • They had a deal on another coach they were that supposed to take delivery on that day, but they liked ours better.
  • They were pre approved for “X” amount would we consider that amount against our coach instead.
  • “So and so” was their salesman at PPL but they were out of the office that day and they couldn’t get in touch.

The amount was doable but it was right at our conservative “low price” so I would have to do something if PPL were even to consider, and so I did.

The next morning I got a message saying there was a deal pending on our coach and the company would keep us posted.  A offer to purchase had been received and the buyer was going to pay to have the coach inspected — the dealer would contact us after the inspection with the results. During the day there were several conversations with PPL — I have to say that they are really great about communication!  Just top notch.

The following morning I got another call and email to tell me that the deal had fallen through.  My immediate thought:  “Too bad, so sad, that’s business.” 

We were told that the ‘buyer’ was not actually approved for the amount that they wanted to borrow, but for a lower amount and a shorter term. But that was a moot point because the credit company could not verify an income stream — so the “pre-approval” wasn’t really a pre-approval at all.

Now — what I find so amusing about all of this is that the buyer would think that in the process of completing a transaction — and they had submitted a bona fide sales contract — that no one would pay attention to their misrepresentation — or to the fact that they had no income trail.  How goofy did they think people are?

I had been careful about where to take the coach to have it sold.  There are a LOT of consignment lots around the country.  Some infinitely better (or should I say “worse”) than others.  I suppose someone with a scammer’s heart might think they could sneak something through but PPL is a pretty big concern and they sell a lot of units — I was confident that they would handle our transaction in a businesslike and professional manner — which they did.  But what of the guy making the offer?  How naive is he?

If you remember that popular TV series House, M.D., the protagonist was prone to claim:  “everybody lies.”  His context was always in a diagnostic mode;  how can a patient hope to be healed if he/she doesn’t tell their doctor what’s really going on in their life.  But there are times that it seems — in real life — that everybody does lie.

I have no doubt that my own career which was too often filled with people eager to tell a fib for some reason or another has a lot to do with my avowed trust issues.  I am a skeptic.  I’ve been in positions to authorize warranty repairs and listened while owners made up fantastic stories about what happened to their product — when a simple chemical test had already laid the blame right at their feet — and they knew it.  I have had dispatchers and customers and friends dream up doozies of stories to get something they wanted.  Or to get me to do something they wanted.  I’ve been the rube a few times; and I’ve dodged the proverbial bullet more than a few times.  It’s all part of life.  And life is a lot more fun when you can laugh at things. Which is what I did when I had the last phone conversation with PPL about this aborted sale.

There’s no sense getting upset.  The “buyer” didn’t do himself any favors — he has no credibility with this dealer so he better not try to buy anything else from them.  I’m out nothing.  It might have been nice to have the coach sold in 10 days from the time we dropped it off, but it will still get done.  I’m confident of that.

One of the things human deceit points out to me is that this world isn’t fair.  People aren’t necessarily honest or noble.  We all have a little graft and greed in our bones.  Whether or not we exercise it is up to us.  We can do so, and chances are that we can get away with it part of the time — maybe even all of the time if we’re a really good liar.  But personally, I don’t want to live in a world where everyone lies. At least not all the time.  I’m going to be who I am whether or not they are who they appear to be, or who they pretend to be.

One of the tricks in life remains living a life you can be proud of in spite of the way other people live.  For me, it’s all about not expecting too much from people.  If I keep my expectations low I’m less often disappointed, less often taken advantage of, and much happier.

We’ll get this job done — selling the RV.  But I know one guy in particular that will not be the successful buyer. 🙂  Last laugh is on him.

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7 Comments

  1. I hear ya, Peter! Life is better when you don’t have to look over your shoulder or wrack your brain trying to remember which tale you told. I have often felt that some people would be far better off if they put their cheating skills to a better use…admittedly, some cons are quite good. It’s a matter of choice…being a black hat or a white hat. For some reason being a black hat has become quite desirable these days.

    As far as expectations…I refuse to lower mine, but in the event that I bump up against the liars and the cheats of the world…I don’t let it get under my skin. I know the mechanics of their choice…and I have multiple checks before I accept a stranger’s offerings.

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    1. Interesting.

      It’s one thing to lower one’s own standards; it’s quite another to lower your expectations of others.

      20-30 years ago I realized that my biggest frustration in life (at the time) was thinking/expecting other people would do what they said they were going to do. I gave up on that. Nowadays — with a few exceptions — I try not to expect anything of anyone and I’m rarely disappointed. In fact, by having no expectations of others I am often delighted because there are still a lot of folks who will go our of their way to do nice things, and to be real friends. Not as many as once might have been the case — or else I’m hanging with less desirable people now — but still, a goodly number.

      I don’t get the appeal of the dark side. But I understand that so many people have given over any pretence of having absolute standards that accepting what I consider substandard behavior is for them normal. They want to be able to do what they want, whether it’s lying or fornication or embezzlement. So they have a vested interest in breaking rules — more than that, in flaunting them and discrediting any standard at all. Not any arbitrary standard, but ANY standard — because any standard may at some point come back to judge them.

      There’s an old testament verse that says (depending on which translation you are reading) “with out a vision the people cast off restraint” or variously “…the people perish”. There is a lot of merit in that statement. Absent any sense of idealism human nature is left with it’s basest, most animal tendencies and those do not tend towards humane treatment or generosity.

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      1. Perhaps there is more to the idea that societal decline has snowballed since women stopped being homemakers…and role models. I have noticed with some of the mid thirties women…more attention is spent of quality up upbringing for their children…I see these changes as hopeful.

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      2. It is clearly a choice that two incomes are more important than parenting. When Katy was born it was not all that difficult for a single worker to sustain a house and family. Peggy never went to work until after Katy was in school and even then the grand parents were in the next apartment over so she was never a latchkey kid. But not all families have that luxury — or can tolerate each other. Or live in such close proximity.

        It seems to me — and this is not a scientific answer — that it only makes sense that if there are “X” hours in the day and you are spending +1/3 of them working and +1/4-1/3 of them sleeping that parenting can only occupy a somewhat smaller part of the parent’s day. That’s just math.

        If I look back at my own life — whether it was right or wrong — I had access to a parent 24/7 until I went to school. And those were a pair of parents — not just one. And they were people who actually WANTED a child. Just that much had to make a difference in my life. For that I was privileged I understand. They may or may not have ‘planned’ me — but I was welcome when I arrived and there were parents and grandparents and friends all nearby to help out.

        You can’t imitate a strong support network. It’s either there or it isn’t. Can that exist without there being a benefit to the kid? I don’t see how that is possible. I can’t say I ever didn’t feel wanted, loved, cared for. I thought everyone felt the same. I was into my teens before I ever realized not all families were like that — and to be honest, I still struggle to believe how unsupported and uncared for some kids grow up. It’s just not part of my experience. Privileged or not.

        I will never say that a single parent can’t be a good parent. I see and know a lot of them. I will never say that a non-religious person can’t be a good parent. I see a lot of those too. But if you are fortunate enough to have a set of parents, and you have some kind of value based upbringing to get you started on a course in life that is productive in your own society I think is a huge advantage that lots of kids don’t get. And I see no way to equality that out. You can legislate a lot of things but I see no effective tool to actually treat all kids the same. It simply isn’t likely when the divorce rate is what it is, and business thinks nothing of transferring employees and uprooting families.

        I think there are a lot of folks who see the decline of family, who see the challenges of parenting and want to do well by their children. But I also see many of them eager for the next raise — even at the cost of uprooting their lives and moving 1000 miles away from home. I ponder how much impact our being in S. Texas will have on our Great Grandkids. I knew my grandmother very very well. I never knew a great grand parent. They were all over in Poland. But Katy is now 350 miles from Melanie and even at her best the contact between grandparent and grandchild will be less than I enjoyed. When Mel was a newborn, Katy took 6 weeks off and went back to work. I was working out of the house and I for a year or so I was Mel’s primary caregiver during the day. Peggy was at the hospital working. I could afford to interrupt my day and make up for it by working earlier and later so working out of the house and caregiving was no problem. well, not NO problem, but a manageable one. We were willing to sacrifice to make things work. As do parents today. But I think some of the sheer numbers are arrayed before them to make success more difficult. Not impossible. But definitely more difficult.

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      3. Both of the people I mentioned earlier were single parents. They decided parenting was their primary choice and they worked out ways to provide for their children during time they were in school. It can be done if one chooses to do it.

        Rick and I actually made the same mistake. We were both there completely during the first four years or so and then once they became school age…we both became involved in start up businesses and our other halves were now the caretakers…in both of our cases, we feel we missed out and would do it differently…given an opportunity.

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      4. The marvelous part about parenting though is that kids manage to turn out pretty wonderful even given the WORST of scenarios. Even in the ghetto you can have wonderful kids with no positive feedback at all.

        Parenting is important, but I have a lot of faith in human nature. And the fact that as individuals we still have the power every moment of every day to change any time we choose. Parents help us make good choices but we can also reject their advice, or make better choices than our parents. That part is always up to us. Identical twins can BE identical, or sometimes they have and can choose not to be.

        We can think our way through life — but the fact of the matter is that life will continue whether or not we think about whether we’re doing a good job or not. I’ve got a lot of faith in the way we were created.

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