Friday, July 25, 2008


Some years ago - about 15 or so - a good friend began displaying really bizarre behaviour. Her life had been really disrupted and difficult for a few years and so she decided to make a major change in her circumstances.

That in itself wasn't such a worry but there were other details that were too out of character and too odd to lump in to the "just making significant changes" category. I was terrified for her, to the point that I was worried for her life. Enough that I called one of her family members to let them know I was really concerned about her and why.

Of course this family member called her and I'm glad they did but she was furious with me.

It would be a lie to say I wasn't shocked that she was angry with me. Really angry. The 'don't ever speak to me again' type angry.

Looking back, however, considering how unlike her usual self she was then, I can understand her reaction. Despite that, were that situation to recur -with her or with someone else, I would do it again.

What kind of friend was I, really, had I not been willing to put the friendship on the line? I was terrified that she was not moving out of the city but that she intendied to shuffle off the proverbial coil. The truest test of a freindship is whether one will sacrifice that friendship to preserve the life of that friend.

I did hestitate to make that call but I made it anyway because, if I were wrong about her, so what? If I were right? That was a different story. I couldn't turn away and hope for the best.

At the time, she hadn't the perspective to understand; everything else was wrong and my actions were just one more wrong thing. We are friends again, for the record and I know she understands now why I did what I did.

In more recent years, a young man I did not know well but who was one of my children's circle also took his life. After, there were many, many regrets and many comments of "I wish I'd said something or done something. I kinda knew something was up."

Sadly, those who felt there was something terribly wrong didn't do or say anything for fear of pissing of the young man or for fear of being, themselves, uncomfortable or perhaps making a mistake or being wrong.

But what if?

What if one person had conquored their own fear of being wrong, of pissing of said young man? What if he had become really angry? What if he had lashed out? What if he had understood that one person gave a damn, and what if that had kept him from shooting himself in his family's garage?

What if that one person had lost that friend but that friend were not now dead?

What if?

What are we willing to risk to preserve the friend even though doing so - keeping that person alive - might kill the friendship?

Photo Credit: David Rabinowitz

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Read the Contract

Ok, I've said this before, written about it a few times and say it to ALL of my clients, over and over:

READ the Contract. If you don't understand it or you don't like the terms, DON'T SIGN IT.

If you don't read it but you sign it anyway, that contract is VALID. There are certain aspects a contract must contain, among them that the transaction it covers is a legal transaction (you can't write a contract for someone to sell illicit drugs for you, for instance, because selling illicit drugs is not a legal activity); the parties entering into the contract must be of sound mind and able to understand the contract and they cannot have been coerced into signing; etc, etc....

If you do not understand the contract or if you don't like the terms outlined in it, don't sign it. Figure it out, get help, get a second opinon, get a lawyer involved, but don't sign it if you don't like the terms or don't understand what the contract entails. Period.

In my case, clients are offered an initial contract that outlines the specifics, in great detail, of what they're after. The first page of these contracts always contains a clause that states if one signs the contract, it is assumed that the signing parties have read, understood and accepted the terms.

After that, there is a second, legal contract drawn up, which a lawyer must present and must discuss in full. The lawyer must also be satisfied that the signing party comprehends and accepts the terms of the contract.

I may have become a hardend old boot but I don't have any sympathy of someone chooses not to read the contract, signs it and then doesn't like it. All contracts contain that clause - make sure you like this because if you sign it, it's yours.

That clause isn't just there to fill the page. I cannot stress this enough. READ the contract. Yes it's boring and yes it may be difficult to understand but those are not valid excuses to skimming a contract, the terms of which probably affect your life. There are NO stupid questions when it comes to contracts.

This is a link to brief info on contracts. It's a US link and applies specifically to housing loans in the US but it's good info anyway.

yes, I've changed my name to Ranty McRanterson.....