Life issues: The Mended Sole
Dealing with ‘a storm in a teacup’
In the episode, The Mended Sole, the main character Sol is a proud old shoemaker with failing eyesight. Amal is a rich merchant. Sol agrees to fix a sandal of Amal’s.
After mending the sandal, Sol claims that he has not been paid. Amal and Sol fall out over this and the disagreement begins to turn nasty.
It is commented upon more than once during the episode that “Such a small coin is hardly worth such a fuss.” It often happens that the biggest disputes can start over the most insignificant of matters. Violent acts in the community such as bar brawls often result from comparatively minor incidents; for example an accidental push or a conversation being misconstrued.
Have you been in a situation when something small has happened to you, perhaps somebody has said or done something that has offended you, and over time the event has continued to bug you?
Perhaps you have gone home and brooded. Sometimes the triviality of the matter will become clear after the passing of a day or so. On other occasions, the incident may continue to well up in your mind; the significance has seemed to ‘snowball’ and grown out of all proportion.
The thing not to do is to let it cause resentment and feel that you need to have revenge. Greg felt tempted in ‘Unfinished Business’ to get his own back on Carl. Sol felt the same about Amal and we know what almost resulted in this case.
Ask yourself if it really is that important? In some situations it may be easier just to let the situation drop. Perhaps you got the wrong idea about what was said or done and it is not worth revisiting. Let bygones be bygones. Sol and Amal could really have both done this, considering that the coin was a small one and the matter reasonably trivial.
If it continues to bug you, the best thing to do is to communicate with the other person as quickly as possible. Sit down and be polite but honest. Use ‘I’ statements and invite the other person to present their view. It is very important that we consider the other person’s point of view in these situations – it can throw more light on why something happened the way it did.
It would have been better if Sol and Amal could have communicated politely and honestly over the subject of the coin. They could have considered each other’s opinions and backgrounds. Amal would have come to realise that Sol was a proud and honest businessman, unlikely to risk his good name and cheat. After discussion and consideration, Sol would have realised that Amal took the questioning of his reputation seriously, as this is what he had built his successful business on. Sol may have decided not to insist on the money, though he knew a mistake had been made. Equally Amal may have reconsidered and insisted on the payment, which is of course what happened in the end.
A factor that prevented a quick settlement in this dispute was the issue of ego. Both men were proud and felt that to back down in this situation would have been a failing. In fact, if one had admitted the mistake or let it slide, nobody would have even known about the incident. At the end of the episode Sol admits that Amal has acted honourably and wishes that he had done the same a lot earlier.
If you feel slighted in some way, it is difficult to look beyond your own feelings. Remember though that it is doubtful that other people present will have given it as much thought as you. Try to be objective and consider all factors.
If it is not possible to talk about it with the person you fell out with, perhaps you can bring in a third party – someone you trust who is unlikely to judge. Their job is not to proportion blame but to help you consider the other person’s view and why things happened. They may have their own opinions on what, if any, action is required from here on in.
You may wish to consider the way you acted immediately after the event. Was it assertive? Was it appropriate? This is necessary so that if a similar situation ever arose, it could be dealt with more successfully. Ever had that feeling ” I wish I had said this…” in response to a tricky situation. Be prepared for the next time.
Sol almost did something he regretted but he took from his experience a valuable lesson. For Sol, Pride had come before common sense and it had almost cost him everything. By the end of the episode, he was the ‘Sol’ that had been mended.