Altruism or Do the Right Thing?

I’m writing articles for a marketing piece and needed to interview experts to confirm that the information I’ve gathered is correct, accurate, and up-to-date. So I called my go-to research base, the University of Michigan News & Information Service office.

I’ve called them for years, asking for experts I can interview and quote in articles I’ve written for hundreds of publication across the country, and I’ve never had a problem. Yesterday, I did.

The information guy asked whether his experts would be quoted. I said, “Probably not. It’s an in-store piece.” And then he said, “Ohhhh…”

“Is that a problem?”

“Well, we are truthfully a PR agency and our whole purpose is to get exposure for our sources, so yes it probably is. I don’t think many professors will choose to do your research for you.”

“Um, sir, I am not asking them to do my research for me. I am looking to confirm information that I’ve found.”

“Well, maybe some will be altruistic and help you anyway but some will not because they want…”

“The attention?”

I gave him an earful. As a Michigan alumn, as a long-time journalist who goes back to helpful sources again and again, I expected better from one of the largest and most respected universities in the nation. But apparently, we’re all only in this for the recognition.

Really? I can’t accept it. Do we only do things because they benefit us? I mean, I work for a living so I can afford to feed and house and clothe my family. And no, it’s not just the basics – I like to live nicely. But am I only in it for me?

If I were, I’d have no clients. No friends. Nothing.

I refuse to believe that historians and experts and researchers only get into this biz for the name recognition. I fully believe in the laws of karma and when you help someone because it’s the right thing to do, to ensure that the public has the right and best information, it comes back to you two-fold.

I’ve seen it happen! Just recently, when the second house fell through because the sneaky sellers decided to circumvent our accepted offer and take a “way higher” offer from another buyer, my eldest son Asher said, “They’ll be calling you, Mommy. This sale won’t happen.”

How could he have known that, when it was time for their inspection, the man they hired turned out to be the uncle of their spurned tenants (and my good friends) and he found a million things wrong with the house? So much so that he told the “way higher” buyers that they’d be crazy to purchase the house at the price they offered.

They took a higher offer to pocket more cash. But they were sitting on a money pit. And it came back to them big time.

I choose to believe that the better people in the world do things because it’s the right thing to do – not because they think gimme gimme gimme before ever taking a step. I can’t fathom living in a world where people are just that chronically selfish.

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