“Contract” doesn’t need to be a scary word. Contracts are, quite simply, “an agreement between two or more parties for doing or not doing something specified.” While lawyers often get involved in contractual disputes, most of the time, contracts really are just as simple as “you do this, I do that, and (ideally) we’re both happy.”
Contracts dictate pretty much everything (of importance) in our daily lives. The U.S. Constitution itself, as well as the laws of our country are nothing more than contracts made between people. Most modern forms of government are built this way; but the history of enforceable contracts can be traced back even further. The ancient Greeks and Romans used contracts to conduct their trade and commerce. Whenever people are interacting with other people, and one person might not hold up their end of the bargain, contracts have value.
Every one of us enters into (and / or abides by) countless contracts on a daily basis. Most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Consider some examples of how contracts might affect your daily life:
- When you take your trash outside on trash day, and the waste removal person comes by and collects it, that’s a contract. Two contracts actually (one between you and your government, and one between your government and your garbage collector).
- When you call 9-1-1 because your husband collapses onto the floor clutching his chest, the reason you expect an ambulance to come is because of a contract you have which affords you access to such emergency services.
Now imagine if a contract is broken. Imagine what would happen if garbage collection no longer occurred as expected. Rush hour got you down? Well…. your local government has violated its contractual obligation to adequately develop infrastructure. What if that ambulance never came when your husband had a heart attack? When contracts are broken, it does damage. Sometimes it’s minor, but sometimes it’s a matter of life and death. Much, if not all of the stress and hardship people experience is due to the fear, or the effect, of contracts being broken.
Suffice it to say that realizing WHEN and HOW you engage in different contractual agreements can go a long way towards improving your quality of life. It’ll give you a better idea of what to expect, and you also know what steps you can take if your expectations are not met.
While most contracts are used to protect people, they have a darker side too. We’ll discuss that a bit more in our next post on the topic.
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