The worse part about being called out
I apologize again for being absent the past few days. I've been trying to be a good host to my family-through-marriage.
So their visit has been nice so far. It's been chilly down here. I know, I know. We'll get no sympathy from those of you who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line. But seriously, when you're accustomed to it being 75 - 80 degrees every day, and then it drops down to the low 60s or low 50s even (high 30s/low 40s at night) then it feels like it's 10 below.
There was one hitch though. When my mom-in-law was just getting settled to the vacation house they rented at the beach, she got a call from the property manager telling her that there was a problem. The contract my mom-in-law and brother-in-law had signed was dated for last week. However, the tons of emails they'd exchanged with the property manager said they wanted the house for this week. She agreed. They signed the contract and faxed it back. The deal was done.
So here they find themselves late Saturday afternoon being told another family would be showing up any time and they had to vacate the property right away or else.
The property manager even sent two sheriff's deputies to the house to emphasize that she wanted my fam-in-law out of there.
So you have a house full of seven adults and a couple of tired babies with nowhere to go. They could've all come and stayed at Burnettiquette World Headquarters. But it would've been like a refugee camp.
Now, here's the rub: Everybody erred. You always read the fine print on a contract before you sign it - even if the details have been verbally agreed upon. We all know that. No one needs reminding. It's like saying "I told you so." Who wants to hear it? By the time it becomes relevant, who actually needs to hear it? But my brother-in-law called the property manager last week and asked if everything was OK for this week. She said yes. Saturday afternoon she explained that away by saying she was in her car when he called and didn't think to confirm it later by actually looking up the contract.
But instead of giving a "soft answer," as per the Biblical reference, or expressing some empathy, she immediately told my mother-in-law that it wasn't her problem, she wanted everyone out right away, and good luck, 'cause she had no help or advice to offer.
She kept saying over and over and over that never mind what she agreed to in the emails, she had a signed contract in her hand and couldn't care less where they went or how they got there, as long as they got out of her house.
And so everyone blew up.
So here's the deal: If you have to tell someone they were wrong, don't be snarky about it. If you have to break some bad news to them don't be flippant about it. I shouldn't say this, but I suppose an "acceptable" exception would be when you're responding in kind to a jerk.
Several hours later, when things had calmed down, and we had shared a few laughs with the sheriff's deputies the property manager sent out, and we had found a new vacation home for my fam-in-law to rent, my mom-in-law and brother-in-law said the situation would have been easier to handle if the manager had been nicer about it.
Maybe if she'd said "I'm sorry, you did sign the contract for last week. So my hands are tied as far as this property goes. But based on all our correspondence, I could've read it over and called you to verify those dates. So I wasn't as thorough as I should've been either. But what's done is done. Let's both work the phones, and we'll find something comparable for you, also near the beach and make the rest of your vacation as smooth as possible. I'm sorry all around that things worked out this way."
Instead she was mean and condescending about it.
I ain't preaching folks, but it is true: A soft answer really does turn away wrath.
Gotta run. I think I'm doing something touristy this afternoon.