When Hidai & I opened our business we decided that one of the main benefits of being your own boss is the ability to choose who you want to work with, so we decided to only work with people who see & appreciate the value we bring, and are happy to pay us.
We were lucky enough that we only had a handful of clients who did not fit this description, but unfortunately there was a case not long ago, when a (now past) client decided the word consultant really means someone-you-can-verbally-abuse-and-their-time-doesn't-matter.
Of course we immediately fired them from being a client.
But it made me think of how some people think that they can (or maybe even should) be mean to people they feel "don't count".
When we moved to Gibraltar there was nowhere to get good baked-goods (I am sorry people of Gibraltar but it's true). I can't live without baked goods, and I needed a sense of normality and home (it was our first relocation, we had 2 young kids. It was tough), so I baked. A lot.
And Hidai constantly said it was very good, but he is married to me (and wants to stay that way) so he has to say that, which kind of hurts his credibility, so to settle the argument, I did what any normal person would do in that scenario and opened a baked-goods stall in the local market.
Funnily enough the main thing I learnt standing for hours, every weekend, in the marina in Gibraltar, wasn't about my abilities as a baker (though I am proud to say I did quite well), it was about how invisible you can be.
Trying to convince people to stop, or taste, or buy, was such a humbling and educational experience into how people treat those in service.
So this summer when Ron was bored he & I made a killer CV and we sent him to look for a job on our local high street. He worked at Pennies (Primark to everyone on the planet except Irish people) for three months, and gained the ability to smile for 8 hours a day at customers, a new computer and an invaluable life lesson - when walking around in a store, always put back the shirts to where you picked them up from.
But most of all, he gained the knowledge of how it feels to be one of those invisible people.
Unfortunately he is yet to gain the ability to fold clothes.
We are lucky enough to be in a position to let people like these go (not because we have the financial stability, more because we are used to living without one), but in this client's case there was injustice, disrespect, and some good old fashion insults involved. And 10 years ago, or maybe even 3, we would have gone head-to-head with them to get our (rightfully deserved) justice.
We were never any good at backing down from a fight related to our sense of justice. Even now, I had the email all written down, the attorney on speed-dial, their board's LinkedIn profiles opened.
But we are old enough, and post-war enough to know that all fights come at a cost. These fights, they drain, consume everything, colour everything in dark colours.
Even when you win (and in this case, I know we would have won), you lose something - the time, the money and the energy that went to the fight and could so easily have gone to better, more positive places.
So we did something we've never done before. We sat down with a cup of tea and a carrot cake, took a deep breath, and let it go.
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