Thursday, December 3, 2009

Doing the right thing isn't always the best thing?

One of my favorite book series is A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. One theme that runs through the books is that the characters who try to do the "right thing" or the honorable thing don't always end up rewarded for their efforts. In one early incident, the character is betrayed and executed. Not because he did something wrong, but because he was too honest and honorable.

It happens in real life.

My bead making instructor has had her own studio for 8 years. Last year, she expanded her studio to accommodate those of us who needed a place to do our work when New Street Glass studio shut down. Which meant adding additional propane tanks and oxygen concentrators for the torches. Being the safety-minded and law-abiding citizen that she is, she made sure she contacted the fire department to get the permits and such that she's supposed to have, to be in compliance with the city laws.

And doing the right thing has led to multiple headaches for her. After several attempts over the last year to get the fire department to have them do an inspection (which they ignored over and over again), an inspector finally gets in touch with her. And proceeds to lambaste her for having equipment that they claim she's not supposed to have. (despite the fact that an fire department officer told her at an earlier time that it was OK to do what she was doing). Finally, this week, the inspection is supposed to happen and my instructor is a bit concerned that they will shut her down, based on the inspector's harsh treatment of her (he clearly doesn't understand what a glass studio is all about and that she has all of the correct safety measures in place).

If she hadn't gone ahead and tried so hard to get the fire department to come out and do the inspection, she wouldn't be at risk of being shut down. Of course, she's an honest person and there was no question that she would do her best to get the correct permits and approvals. But, I think a part of her wonders if it was worth the effort.

Honest people should get better treatment. It's so easy to NOT do the right thing and benefit from it. People brag about how they get around our tax laws or buy things from NH to avoid sales tax. Or how they got away with something that wasn't totally on the up-and-up. I'm not immune from this behavior, myself. (what is it about humans...we all try to find a way to cheat "the system" at some point).

I'm hoping the inspection goes well and I can continue to do my glass work at her studio. If she does have to shut down, I think I can return to my original studio and rent time there, as it's back in operation. But it wouldn't be the same without my instructor being there.

Let's all keep honest people in our thoughts today and wish them better rewards.

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