Thursday, 30 April 2009

Pride comes before a Fall

I cancelled the piano tuner. It may not sound like much, but it was almost traumatic. He comes every six months to tune our ancient piano, and he charges £40 for doing so. But with the recession even reaching his usual workplaces of Russia and Azerbaijan, my self-employed auditor husband hadn’t had any work since November, so we are having to tighten our belts. That means luxuries like piano tuning have to go.

Actually I’m tone deaf and wouldn’t know whether or not the piano is in tune. In fact, for all I know, the piano tuner could have been scamming me for years and laughing quietly to himself when I declared, “That sounds so much better!” and handed over the cash equivalent of half our weekly food budget. But even so, it was very difficult for me to phone him up and ask him not to come next month, as scheduled, because we couldn’t afford to pay for it. Whilst it’s easier to admit to the necessity of such cutbacks when everyone is in the same boat, it is never easy to tell others that things are difficult. Especially when those people also need to come up with cash for the weekly food budget. I was quite pleased to have to deliver the message to the answering machine rather than the man in person. And if he has been scamming me for years, it serves him right.

C.S. Lewis once said: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” In other words, the only reason it was difficult for me to tell the piano tuner’s answering machine that I couldn’t afford to pay him his fee was because I somehow considered it important to be seen by him as someone who had plenty of money to splash around on luxuries like a tuneful piano. And actually, that is about the crux of it.

We are faced daily with similar problems on the LawCare helpline. We recently had a case where a solicitor had run his own conveyancing and probate practice for over twenty years. For most of that time it had been extremely successful and profitable, but now, despite all the economies he had made – moving the firm into his home and making his assistant redundant – it was clear to him that he could not continue. He was faced with having to go, cap in hand, to some of the larger firms in the area and seek employment with them in order to pay his mortgage and run-off insurance. In difficult times we have to do difficult things. The fa├žade of the high-flying wealthy lawyer may have to come down, and some of us may have to swallow our pride and admit that we are struggling. LawCare is here to support you as you make those difficult decisions and to remind you that, even though you may have to let go of your pride, you don’t need to let go of your self-respect, or of hope for the future.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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