Half Full, Half Empty
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
I was cleaning up some files on my computer the other day and ran across a message I wrote to a friend in spring 2015 describing the origin and context of what my law professor had dubbed The Currie Rule.
(I was in an accounting program, but I took all of the business law classes that were offered. Which was totally a good call, understanding basic legal concepts at this point in my life is completely useful.)
I’m posting a slightly reworked version of the message here because I think it is funny that this became a thing in class, and also I think that it is an oddly accurate representation of my world view.
That glass may look half-full now, but someday it will be empty.
So my law classes are taught Socratic method — professor asks question, student answers, general discussion ensues. Back and forth, questions and answers.
I talk some in class, but I try to not talk too much. If other people are willing to give answers, then they can just go ahead. Sometimes in the law classes I end up talking because the 24-year-olds can be so dumb, they just have no common sense. So a lot of times when I talk it’s to say something completely obvious that no one else seems to be able to think of. My professor appreciates that about me. (In the Mod One class I had with her, she told me I was “exceptional.” Yay, me.)
I don’t remember exactly how this came up, but it was in the partnership class during Mod Two, we were talking about getting everything written into the partnership agreement in the beginning, making sure everything is figured out up front, including how losses will be handled.
The professor asks why you want to do this in the beginning. Why do want to go through all of this detail from the start, talk about both profits and losses?
Some bright young thing gives a narrowly correct answer — something like because you need to file the paperwork in the beginning. Professor says, “Yes, that’s true … what else?” Another 24-year-old with another technically correct but incomplete answer, “Yes … what else?”
Sometimes this goes on for a while. I don’t remember how long it went in this case, but eventually I decide that the 24-year-olds aren’t going to come up with the answer. I raise my hand. Professor sees my hand and calls on me, “Yes, Ms Currie?”
I say, “Because in the beginning, no one ever thinks anything is going to go wrong. No one starts a business to lose money. And then once you’re losing money, you don’t want to have to figure out what to do. Things are already a mess and then it just turns into a bigger mess.”
She said, “That’s exactly right.”
So then for the rest of the year in her classes, any time the answer had to do with things going south and people losing money, she would call on me.
“Why is this, Ms Currie?” she’d say.
And I’d say, “Because no one ever thinks they’re going to lose money.”
She called it The Currie Rule.
In the ethics class that she taught in Mod Three, we had a class on sexual harassment. I was in the day’s second session. When I walked in to the classroom, she saw me and said, “Oh, there you are Ms Currie! I was looking for you in the earlier class.”
She said they were talking about office romances. She said she was looking for me to invoke The Currie Rule. All I could think of was about losing money, I was confused about how that related to an office romance.
She said, “No one ever thinks they’re going to break up.”
I said, “Oh yeah, that too.”