If you’ve been following this blog for the past few months, I’ll assume that you’re familiar with my unlikely spiritual teacher — an inanimate retaining wall that rests in front of my house.
Right after I contracted the job, the wall gave up the ghost. There are actually two walls, one is 90 feet long and 4 feet high, the other 75 feet by 3 feet.
This wall has taught me about my feelings about money, taking full responsibility for my feelings, and the power of consciously choosing a better thought. The whole experience has been like a graduate school class in personal development.
I am happy to report that the wall is done. And it looks beautiful — I am thrilled to put my eyes upon it each time I arrive home. What’s more, somehow, the whole thing came in a few hundred bucks under budget!
Granted, the project was originally scheduled to take two weeks and ended up taking five months, but hey, who’s counting, right?
To recap, I hired a contractor to do the job, mostly because he offered the best price, but I also trusted the dude and he billed himself as a stone mason.
Work began, I kept writing checks and then work stopped. My contractor disappeared with about $3500 and would not return my calls. And yes I called. And called. I stopped by his house several times. Very often my anger toward the whole situation would pop in my head as my head hit the pillow. I’d lie in bed and stew, unable to choose a better thought.
When I found myself reaching a better place mentally about the whole thing, my phone rang one day. He promised that he and his crew would be here on Monday. Monday arrived and I found myself looking out the window like a lonely puppy waiting for his master to return. No one showed. No one called. For weeks, no one returned my calls again. Feeling like a pissed off version of Charlie Brown after getting duped by the football trick one too many times, I was out for revenge.
Now revenge is not a great feeling place to be. But you know what? It felt better than where I was. And so I followed this thread.
My first idea was to take him to court and sue for my money, so I called my attorney. He told me to first check with the county clerk and see if my guy had any outstanding liens against him. If he did, even if I won, I’d be at the end of the line and the chances of getting my money back were nil.
So I looked him up, and sure enough, you could field a baseball team with the list of people he owed money. But according to my lawyer, I still had one card to play and I wasn’t about to fold.
An hour later, I found myself in the District Attorney’s office. He told me they pursued contractors in a criminal manner. Because the disputed amount was over three grand, he could charge my contractor with a felony.
I had told my contractor I wasn’t playin’ around… I admit, the thought of him getting hit with a felony charge made me giddy with satisfaction. I could picture him spewing the same bullshit to the trooper at his door, the trooper having none of it, telling him to watch his head as he got cuffed and stuffed.
Days later I gave my statement to a state trooper in my home. (As I told him my story, he kept shaking his head. I asked him why and he said he was dealing with a contractor that gambled away $10K of his home renovation money. I knew I had a strong ally.)
The trooper went to put the bracelets on him, but he was out of town and his family informed him of his visitor. That night I got a call from my contractor (so that’s how you get them to call you back!) and his tone told me he was feeling the pain, but he’d been up against a wall before. He’s a talker — a man who just keeps talking and who knows how to manipulate a conversation. I’d fallen prey to him several times already. This evening would be different.
I’d just seen the movie Fargo on cable and I stole a line from the film when he tried to spin me into his web of words and excuses.
“Jack, I’m not going to debate you.”
He’d spew again and I’d repeat myself.
“I’m not going to debate you. You took my money, either pay me back or take your chances in court. Oh, with a felony charge, I’d hire a good lawyer if I was you.”
No, this wasn’t enlightened conversation. I was in war-mode and my sole focus was to bring this man down, to make him feel the pain that I felt he brought into my life. Throughout our conversation, I kept my thumb pressed on his windpipe.
And it felt good.
Eventually, he saw his situation clearly and he agreed to start gathering his nickels in order to pay me back. I called off the dogs with the state trooper and in a week I had most of what he owed me in cash (He gave me a notarized IOU for the balance. It’s be good to see it, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Better to get something back then nothing, I thought.)
The funny part was that I met him over at his house to complete the transaction. He told me all the things that had gone wrong for him, and while I was empathetic, I really just wanted my money. But we shook hands like men. No hard feelings.
Just resolution to a problem.
While I had a hard time disconnecting from feelings of blame, worry about my money, or anger, I did begin to choose better thoughts. Even though revenge is not the highest level vibration, it beats despair. When I connected to revenge I was able to connect to disappointment. From disappointment, I could touch frustration. From frustration, I could eventually believe that I would see some money back from Jack. (You can check out the full emotional scale from Abraham-Hicks here).
Connecting to better feelings creates better realities.
A month before hitting my threshold with Jack, a beat up pick-up pulled into my driveway. Actually, “beat up” is being generous with the condition of the vehicle — it had no rear window and was leaking several fluids. Anyway, the driver knocked on my door, a man who had seen better times, but he told me he’d been driving past my house many times, and he’d noticed that their had not been much progress on my wall? Did I need help?
While I still believed my contractor would return like the prodigal son, I took the man’s number. Now, when it was clear that Jack was out of the game and winter was fast approaching, I called the man who had reached out for work.
He arrived the next day at the appointed time and wrote me a reasonable estimate. And I found myself hiring him. He just struck me as man who could build a wall.
And he did.
He showed up. He worked hard. And he built me a beautiful, sturdy wall.
Every time I drive home now, I love what I see again.
And I hope I’ve internalized a lesson or two about choosing better thoughts… all the time…
zee trick, she is done