DOES DIT PAY TO BE STUPID? (2 july 2008)
Before I became a teacher, I worked a few years in the damages department of an insurance company.
Whenever people filed any damage claims with the company, my colleagues and I had to find out whether the claim was justified and assess the extent of the damage.
I remember one day a guy with a French nobleman's name like Rothschild, Fabergé or Merde made a fall in his hotel bathroom and broke his anklebone.
If such an accident happened to you or me, we would probably attribute it to our own carelessness. After all, if nobody else has ever slipped or stumbled in this bathroom, we may safely assume there's nothing wrong with it.
Well, watching one's step may be a thing to be observed by the common people. The nobility, in this case the bloke with the posh name, seemed to entertain the rather childish notion of "I cannot possibly be the one who is to blame".
So one day a letter appeared on my desk in which the aforesaid grandee claimed thousands of dollars of damages that his lordship had suffered as a result of his infelicitous frolic.
As is usual in cases where claims are made without any proof, I wrote a polite letter in which I stipulated that his claim would have more chance of success if his highness could provide some evidence that the damage was caused by any wrongful doing of our client (the hotel).
Instead of being provided with the required evidence, we received a letter in which the above-mentioned member of the gentry accused the insurance company of the gross insult of not believing him offhand. Our amateur tumbler threatened to sue the insurance company for libel,slander and a handful of other wrongdoings dreamt up by cunning lawyers.
Well, you can imagine the Pavlovian response of those placed higher up in the ranks of the insurance company. The file was transferred to the kind of lawyer who charges a hundred Euros just for picking up the telephone and ... I was happy to get the pedigreed bastard out of my hair.
Unfortunately, I have never heard how this case was concluded, so I cannot satisfy your curiosity -- however justified it may be.
Since that time, however, I have occasionally been wondering whether it even pays for the aristocrats to be stupid.