The value of the word
I met Susan in her penthouse in the neighborhood of Sarrià Sant Gervasi in Barcelona; all I knew about her was that she wanted to sell it, and that she came from London.
In the elevator I imagined the typical English lady with her “tea room”. I knocked the door and when she opened it her aesthetic surprised me; she was a woman about 30 years old, blonde, with the body very tattooed and several piercings. It was the year 2,002 and the tattoo/piercing fashion had not arrived to Barcelona.
The penthouse had a very bohemian and vintage feel, which did not fit with her style. We quickly got together and agreed on a real price and exclusive management. During the visit I asked her why she had bought an apartment in Barcelona.
She was an “unrecognized” daughter of a British writer who, at his death, tested the apartment in her favor. Her childhood was quite complicated since her mother had few financial resources.
After several visits we reached an agreement with a lovely couple, who had fallen in love with the apartment.
Two days before signing the contract, other clients insisted that they wanted to buy it, so I told them that the owner had given his word and there was no going back. They insisted and insisted, they raised the offer several times, obtaining her refusal; the offer reached € 20,000 more than the agreed price with the other clients. Then I called Susan and told her that we had to see each other.
-We have an offer 20,000 € higher, I know that you are a woman of your word, but I do not know if your word is worth € 20,000, so you must decide what to do.
-And what would you do? – she asked me.
-Don’t put me in this commitment – I answered – I know that you need the money and I do not want to influence you …
-Yes, but I want to know your opinion.
-A long time ago I read a metaphor that talks about principles, ethics, values and the power of word. Call me romantic, “old fashioned”, or silly if you want, but I remember that at the time of my grandparents, the WORD and a HANDSHAKE had more value than a signature with a notary. The metaphor says thus:
There was an aircraft carrier of the American navy sailing on a foggy night. In the distance they saw a small light and through morse signals with light they told it: “Tack 20º to starboard or we will chrush” to which the light answered “Tack 20º to starboard or you will crush on me”. The aircraft carrier replied: “I am captain of the american navy! Or you tack 20º to starboard or we will crush! “And the light: “I am a sailor! Or you tack 20º to starboard or you will crush on me”. Astonished the American replied: “Last warning! I am a carrier of the american navy! Or you tack 20º to starboard or we will crash!”, To which the light answered: “Last warning! I am a lighthouse!”. There were no more messages. The aircraft carrier turned 20º to starboard.
The word, the principles, the values, are like lighthouses. If you skip them, you hit them … But it’s up to you.
After a silence that spoke for itself, she answered me! – Tell them no, that my word is not worth 20 or 30 thousand euros. I want to have a clear conscience. I will be faithful to my word, principles and values.
We can change the world!