Moldy Blueberries

I sometimes watch Judge Judy with the woman I help care for, and one thing I’ve learned from the show is that often the people on both sides of the case deserve each other. If the person at fault would simply own to up to the fault, or if they’d at least offer to help defray the costs of their part in the fiasco, there would be no problem. And if the person who thinks s/he was wronged would be willing to compromise, then again there would be no problem. But if both blame the other, if both want what they think they are owed (rather than what they really are owed), then there is a problem. So parents sue their offspring. Grown children sue their parents. Friends and roommates sue each other. All because they can’t sit down like the adults they pretend to be, and figure things out. So they go before Judge Judy and let her harangue them.

Another thing I’ve learned is that when money is involved, people always believe they deserve it. If someone lends a friend or relative or significant other a sum of money, whether or not actual terms of repayment are discussed, the lendees (at least the ones on the show) believe they don’t need to pay it back. Often the friend or ex-lover or whoever doesn’t actually ask to borrow the money, but he or she whines piteously to the lender, and because the lender either wants to help or wants the lendee to shut up, the friend offers to lend the money. And because the lendee didn’t come right out and ask for the money, the lendee thinks s/he has no obligation in the matter. (I have had experience in this sort of thing. A relative used to call me up and whine and whine about her financial problems, and because I felt bad for her — and wanted to shut her up — I’d lend her money, and she was always shocked when I asked her to repay it because, as she said, “I never asked you for it.”)

Then there are all the tenant and landlord disagreements. So often I find both people in the wrong, even though I should side with the tenants because I’m one of those who seldom got my deposit back — the landlords always took out money to pay for normal wear and tear rather than for anything I did. (I mean, if you live somewhere for twenty years, as Jeff and I did, there will be a lot of wear and tear, as well as a carpet that needs to be cleaned, rather than actual damages.) Since I’m not litigious, my modus operandi when dealing with landlords was to make sure the deposit was never more than I could afford to lose.

Some of the issues on the show have to deal with products bought or sold, such as vehicles or collectables: a case not just of “buyer beware,” but also “seller beware.” Which is why I have a garage full of things I should/could sell, but I don’t trust people enough to do a long-distance transaction.

And of course, there are a lot of problems with contractors, mechanics, and other fee-for-service businesses who take the fees and don’t do the service. The hirers might not have a choice who they get to work for them, especially in areas with limited services, but there has never been a single one of these cases where I would have ever hired the worker. Their shifty-eyes and fake smiles, if nothing else, would make me back away, though I have been cheated by car mechanics, and as anyone who has read any of my posts about fixing up my house and yard knows, I have a contractor who sometimes comes to work for me, sometimes doesn’t. Mostly I try to make sure I never pay him too much in advance, not because I don’t trust him, but because I don’t trust life. If something happens to him, and he still owes me work, I would never, could never go to his widow and the mother of his small children and demand a refund. She’d have more than enough to contend with in that situation.

There was only one show I saw where neither party was to blame and both were victims. The defendant was driving by the plaintiff’s house when the defendant was shot by an unknown person, and because he lost control of his car, he rammed into the plaintiff’s vehicle and totaled it. The plaintiff sued the defendant because he needed a new car and the defendant’s insurance company refused to pay on the grounds that the driver wasn’t the proximate cause of the accident. Yikes.

As you can see, I cannot even watch a silly television show without trying to learn a life lesson, and what I’ve learned — as I said — is that so often people deserve each other.

After all, moldy blueberries tend to attract other moldy blueberries.

It’s the moldy blueberry analogy that I’ve been smiling about lately and what actually prompted this post. In that particular case, a mother gave her teenage son a car for his use, and because the son was drinking and getting high with some buddies and was too wasted to drive, he lent the vehicle to a still-sober friend so the friend could go and get some treats. It was snowing, the streets were slick, and the driver got in an accident. The mother was suing the friend for damages to the car.

You’d recognize the friend — oh, not by name of course, but by type. He’s every ostensibly clean-cut, self-righteous rich kid in every teenage movie you’ve ever seen. He of course didn’t think he was to blame; after all, he wasn’t the one drinking or taking drugs.

So Judge Judy compared his situation to moldy blueberries. She mentioned that when customers are looking to purchase blueberries, if they see even a single moldy blueberry in the carton, the customers won’t buy the carton because they know that mold spreads.

The rest of the show, she never called the co-defendant (the son who lent the car) by name, only called him “the moldy blueberry.”

That, in the end, is the main thing I’ve learned from watching the show: stay away from moldy blueberries.

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