Let Justice Be Done!

When I was a new real estate agent (new kid on the block) a couple of times my ability to stand up for myself was tested. It is a funny thing, but in a big real estate agency the fellow at the next desk — officially your fellow team member — can be your worst adversary.

There was an in-house fee split situation in which my “fellow team member” (Let’s call him Mike) managed to get my check shorted by $100, which was add to Mike’s check. Our managing broker had written the incorrect check amounts after Mike had lied to him about the agreement we had between us.

Although I had correspondence supporting my claim, the managing broker would not do anything to correct it. Warning me about future dealings, the managing broker said: “You’ve got to be strong with Mike.” Taking his advice to heart, I filed a small claims lawsuit against Mike.

I was nervous the day of the trial, and kept talking about it, probably not a great thing to have done within the hearing of my then, 6 year-old son, Leif. Just before I left, Leif said: “The judge is going to decide by flipping a coin.” Kid’s say the darnedest things, I thought.

Our case was last to be heard. It was August, and no air conditioning in the courtroom. Tired and drooping, the judge hardly paid attention and would not even look at my evidence. Then Mike made an offer: I’ll settle for $50.”

“Well?” said the judge, looking at me. I was outraged. “He owes me $100. He should have to pay what he owes.”

Obviously exasperated, the judge replied.

“You are $50 apart. Today is the last day of the current session. On Monday I return to Chittenden County and a new session with another judge begins. If we cannot finish this case today, you will have to get on the new court calendar and wait another 3 months for a trial date.”

He paused, letting it sink in. Then he said:

“Or, we could could settle right now by flipping a coin.”

We agreed. The judge flipped. I lost.

But before leaving, I had to tell the judge what my son had said. He leaned forward with a conspiratorial smile and said: “Your son and I have a deep psychic connection.”

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