The anatomy of a wish
Even on the most ordinary day, one can find interesting conversation popping up out of nowhere. Now, like most individuals, Tom hated missing the elevator by a whisker. He was low-key overjoyed when he was able to slide in through closing doors just in time, and doubly glad to see his old friend Gerald, who worked in the same building, inside. Working on floors 24 and 25, it was a fair way up, so Tom was glad to spend a couple of minutes with a familiar face.
Not one moment after exchanging pleasantries, however Gerald asked, “Why do we need lawyers?”
“Come again?” Tom was taken by surprise.
“Why do we need lawyers?”, Gerald repeated. “What ever happened to trust sprinkled with a pinch of vigilance?”
“Well, Gerald, the layperson isn’t that good at thinking through the details and implications of what they say. Take a simple thing like a will, for example. Just how detailed and clear do you think a normal person would be if they did it themselves?”
“Come on. What’s so difficult about saying who gets what?” Gerald scoffed
“You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget something, or make a mistake. After all, what if you changed your mind later? Would you go through the hassle of rewriting and filing it with the authorities every single time? Or, even worse, what if your grandson was holding you at gunpoint, demanding you leave him everything you have?”
Tom went on. “It’s not just about wills or criminal cases. Here’s a fun story for you. A company once sent all its employees a poll, asking if short skirts should be made mandatory. 90% of male employees and 2% of female employees responded in the affirmative. Male employees, however, made up 70% of the workforce, so the majority vote was in favour of short skirts.”
“Poor ladies!”, said Gerald
“I don’t know about that. I suppose the voters, like you, assumed this dress code would apply only to women. The very next day, however, every employee who voted in favour was required to show up wearing a short skirt.”
Gerald laughed. “Serves them right!”
“Glad you see the funny side, Gerald. However, what if it was you? Would you swallow humble pie and show up as required the next day?”
“Of course not! I’d…”
“Argue? Sue? Question its legal basis?”, Tom pressed with a smile.
“I suppose you have a point”, Gerald started to concede.
“Ambiguous language, assumptions, willingly or unwillingly nefarious entities make you a solid mark for the devil that dances in the details. I’ve got one more story for you. Someone once wished to go back in time 100 years. However, they didn’t specify the location. They landed in the exact same spot, 100 years before the day they made the wish. Unfortunately, the earth was elsewhere, and the poor bloke ended up in outer space, frozen and dead, technically with a negative age. Not the sort of history he was hoping to make, but memorable all the same. And the guy who made it happen? He’s gotta live with that oopsie forever…”
Tom was interrupted by the elevator’s first and penultimate halt.
“Well this is my floor. Fun chat, and I suppose let’s not fire the suits just yet”, said Gerald with a laugh, stepping out of the elevator. “And it’s a good thing we haven’t got people making half-assed wishes forcing someone to decide what to do about it on the spot.”
“I wonder about that…”, thought Tom to himself, as the elevator doors shut.