Posted by: ritagone | November 12, 2014

Unintended Consequences




It started as an innocuous email.

He was curious about its subject matter, so he filled out the information, as requested, and sent it back.

It was an innocent effort on his part to gather information about reverse mortgages; he was thinking perhaps, since we have no existing mortgage on our home, that we could possibly one day borrow money as a sort of “line of credit” instead. So he (my husband Michael) kept on answering questions and filling in the forms, kind of enjoying the process as he went along.

And then he clicked “send,” and off that information went into the ether world of Internet space. He received what would turn out to be a cryptic message shortly thereafter: “Someone will contact you by phone with information regarding your request.” Of course he had given them our home phone number.

He just wasn’t thinking.

Within 20 minutes, the phone calls started: one mortgage company after another calling to discuss with him the benefits that their particular company could offer us. We were inundated with phone calls of this nature, as if the normal number of stupid phone calls we get were not enough. It was like a downpour of recorded messages or hang-ups (because we wouldn’t answer the phone), one right after the other, until I couldn’t help myself:

“What were you thinking?!!” I yelled at him from my office to his across the hall. Yes, there was a nasty lilt to my voice. I admit it.

He was apologetic. He felt terrible. He told me how it had happened, walked me through the entire procedure from beginning to end. My consternation was not assuaged. The damage had been done. The phone is still ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

There is a great spiritual lesson to be learned and reinforced here, and it is that our actions have consequences. Often they are unintended, but they are consequences nonetheless. If Michael were a teenaged grandchild of mine instead of my usually wise, sane husband, I would be wagging my finger and shaking my head a lot more than I am now, because I know that he understands all to well what he has done. He has plenty of remorse. I only need to rub it in a little bit. And yes, I’m enjoying every crack I make about the constant phone ringing and messages left on the answering machine from mortgage companies begging for his business and a return call.

Eventually the phones will stop ringing. Thank goodness. They will realize that there’s no business to be gained at this phone number and go on to the next guileless person who fills in the form and clicks “send.”

But often the unintended consequences of our actions burrow far deeper into our lives than this. And that’s the scary part of our decision making. Not just that it’s bad and serious today, but that it has the potential to ripple and make waves into tomorrow and next week and often leave marks that can last a veritable lifetime.

It gives you pause. And should. Particularly before you hit the “send” button.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: