The professor’s anger reached a boil-over point because the cost of the food that he ordered from an on-line menu had not been updated to reflect a $1-increase per dish. At one point he went so far as to demand a $12 refund since state law allows consumers to receive triple the loss they sustain. He also said all other patrons who could have been overcharged (according to the restaurant’s web site prices) had to be contacted and reimbursed.
However, I found it odd that the professor, a very well-educated man, would not accept an offer by the restaurant owners to pay for half of his meal. His actions reminded me of the times (hopefully the few times in my life) when I totally lost all perspective and pursued a matter like a crazed blood hound hot on the trail of its prey. I occasionally see that same action in other people such as the professor, and it’s then that I recall how our minds can trick us into believing some little issue or offense is grounds to start a third world war.
It is truly amazing how a person’s intellect and misguided thoughts can totally cloud their vision and actions. In the case of the Harvard professor, he eventually realized the error of his ways and was man enough to publicly admit that he was way out of line. How many times do we allow our emotions to lead us to accuse and vilify others over something minor that happened? Then we hold a grudge, or take legal action against the other party. Below are a few examples of how a skewed mindset has resulted in court action.
A 12-year-old Canadian girl reportedly took her father to court because she felt being grounded for disobeying his order to stay off the Internet was unfair. The girl had reportedly made a habit of breaking rules at home after her parents divorced. Her unruly conduct reportedly involved chatting on websites and even posting inappropriate photos of herself online. As punishment, she was grounded by her father. However, a female judge sided with the girl, overruled the father’s discipline and granted the daughter the right to go on a school camping trip.
A 73-year-old woman in Vienna was charged with stalking by her son. She had been phoning him up to 49 times a day for two-and-a-half years and the son finally grew tired of it. The mother claimed she only wanted to talk to her son, but that did not prevent a judge from fining her almost $500 for her inappropriate actions.
A court granted the mother of a 21-year-old murder victim the right to extract semen from her son’s body two days after he died. The ruling was made so the son could have his dream fulfilled of having children. Although he was not married and did not have a prospective candidate, he had told his mother about his desire to have three sons. A judge agreed with the mother’s request that her son’s body be kept cool enough to preserve his sperm until it could be collected by a specialist. The mother plans to employ the services of a surrogate to give birth to her grandchildren.
Two teens won a lawsuit after being injured while trespassing on someone’s private property. The Pennsylvania teens were severely burned while on top of a parked railroad. They had been skateboarding and had illegally entered property owned by Amtrak and Norfolk Southern Corp. They climbed on top of a boxcar in hopes of getting a view of the city and contacted an uninsulated wire. A blast of 12,500 volts of electricity caused burns to over 75 per cent of one teen’s body. His buddy was burned over 12 per cent of his body when he tried to help his friend when his clothes caught fire.
In 2006, a jury concluded the 17-year-old boys were trespassing, but were not responsible for the accident. The jury put all the blame on Amtrak and Norfolk Southern for failing to post signs warning of the danger of electrified wires that power locomotives. The teens received $24 million for pain and suffering, medical costs, and loss of life pleasures.
In 2004, two Colorado teenage girls stayed home from a dance to bake cookies for their neighbors. Wanting to remain anonymous, they knocked on the doors of nearby houses and ran away after leaving a package of their baking. The packages contained cookies and heart-shaped gift tags that stated, “Have a great night. From the T and L Club.” A 49-year-old neighbor lady was startled by the girls’ shadowy figures at her doorstep and called the police. They investigated and determined no crime had been committed. However, the incident reportedly gave the cookie-recipient an anxiety attack for which she was admitted to the hospital the next day.
The teens apologized to the woman, and their families offered to pay her medical bills. Apparently forgiveness was not in the woman’s vocabulary as she sued the girls. A judge awarded her almost $900 for medical expenses and said she was not entitled to $3,000 in damages. Her losses included lost wages and new motion-sensor lights for her porch. The case attracted a lot of media attention and the girls received donations from across the States to help pay their fine.
Isn’t it simpler, cheaper and a lot healthier to simply forgive someone we think has offended us?