Chew On This

Do you remember why there was a “run on the banks” that preceded the Great Depression? Do you recall the panic Orson Welles set off with his War of the Worlds broadcast? Was it a coincidence that the hostages held by Iranians in 1979-80 were released the day Ronald Reagan became president? Have you ever heard a politician or Hollywood star say something flip and reckless one day, and retract and denounce the entire statement the next?

Spin, my friends, shapes this world but not so much the spin they (whoever “they” may be) make us believe; it is the spin we want to believe. I watched my own aging children “spin” their answers about belief in Santa Claus because they knew their personal gift haul would be greater if their grandparents and parents still thought they were believers. Finding the best take on things–that which is most favorable—appears to be human nature. But how do people “spin” when the mistakes they’ve made have been so selfish and stupid that no matter how they twist it, they come up losers?

Selfish Scenarios

That’s an easy one to answer. They just quit. They throw up their hands and say, “Wow, no one told us” or “Gee, we didn’t know it would turn out like that.” So that’s where we are now in this country. We are the personification of the cheerleader who married the high school quarterback but found him to be self-centered and cheating, so she divorced him a few years later, hit the tanning booth and the gym, and headed to the singles bar. There she set her trap for (you guessed it) the tall, good-looking, athletic guy with his obnoxious buddies dripping in cologne and mousse. In a few days he falls into the trap, and she wins him. Guess what she finds. He is self-centered and cheating. Cut to the courtroom where she sits weeping and dabbing her eyes, as she pleads to the divorce lawyers, “I didn’t know it would turn out like that.” Cry me a river, honey–yes you did!

How about the fortyish, suddenly single mom who selflessly put her husband through law school, raised the kids almost alone, and worked a night job to maintain his loans? Two months after he passes the bar exam, he leaves her for a 23-year-old law clerk. The wife says she never saw it coming, even though every single thing he did over the last 10 years was all about him. She cleans him out for a hefty alimony, and he whines, “She’s taking it all!” No kidding, dude. He has earned the mess he is now in, and she has earned the profit from his sweat.

Now note the 90-year-old grandmother who has run up an enormous credit-card balance that she has no intention of paying. “What are they going to do,” she smiles, “throw me in jail?” The credit card company cries out, “She shouldn’t have done that!” The company may be right, but it shouldn’t have sent her a credit card either!

Now consider the anxious couple sitting before a loan officer. The couple has dreams like anyone does. The husband and wife have produced their documents that show a bank balance of $100, the note on their 12-year-old car, and a letter from her employer saying that she’s been with the company for almost a year. The loan officer grins, and they interpret that as trust. “Although you don’t qualify right now for any of our traditional loans, we do have a package that would be just right for you. It might be a little risky but, you know, what isn’t?” They are relieved. “So where do we sign, Mr. Cipher?” He smiles again. “Oh, hey, just call me Lou.”

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He can be reached via e-mail rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com

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