Friday, January 04, 2008

Will I Ever Get It?

I was an absolute jerk yesterday.

Here's what happened.

We were over looking at the space for the Vita staff retreat and the meeting took a little longer than I expected. I had a meeting back at the office that I really had to be on time for. Now, let me tell you what that means, I really had to be on time because I have to be on time. I hate being late. Hate it. When it happens I get all agitated and upset with myself. I'm OK with others being late, don't mind it a bit. But this is a standard I've set for myself and I like to keep it. So, I'm rushing back for the meeting and I'm cutting it fine.

I get dropped off right at the door and rush in praying that the elevator (the slowest on earth) will be there wating for me on the ground floor. It isn't, it's on the second floor. I push the button, it lights up acknowledging that it's coming. But it takes longer than ever, I understand why. When it arrives after several long plump minutes make their way like sweat down my back - it is full. A staff and three members. Two of which were carrying large, heavy looking boxes. They were having trouble getting organized in the little space to get out of the elevator and through the door.

"Come on, come on, come on, come on," I think, but do not say.

The last person off is another fellow with a disability who is so bundled up I do not recognize him with the touque pulled down and his scarf wrapped firmly around his face, he was all eyes. They lit up at seeing me, he immediately pulled down the sleeve of his jacket and was attempting to get me to look at something. (You're in my way, you're in my way, you're in my way," I think but do not say.) Suddenly the door is closing right behind him, I NEED to be on that elevator so I push around him to get to the door and stop it from closing. I slide into the elevator and see that he has turned and still has his arm up.

Anyone else, not rushing, not having a mind filled with impatience, would have noticed that he was trying to show his new watch. I'm on the elevator now, the door is closing, he eyes are beaming into mine. "I get it," I say excitedly, "You've got a new watch for Christmas, it's nice." Just before the doors closed, I saw the hurt in his eyes, they said, "But you didn't even see it," even though he didn't.

I brushed it away, I HAD A MEETING. I got to my office to discover that no one was there yet, a call on my answering machine said that the meeting needed to be delayed for 15 minutes. I sat there.

On time.

No awards for punctuality.

I knew he'd be gone now. I knew the moment was over. I felt horrible. I closed my eyes only to see his as they looked at me with such disappointment. He was asking for a few seconds, that's all. He wanted to show me something important. Worse, he knew that I had blown him off with cheap meaningless praise. Worse still, I had shown myself untrustworthy.

I can tell myself that I'll do better next time.

I've said that before.

And been wrong.



Anonymous said...

Everyone shows himself untrustworthy sooner or later. (No, that's not consolation. It's condensed experience.) No-one is fully trustworthy.

The people I trust best aren't those who've yet to show themselves untrustworthy, but those who've shown themselves able to do what's necessary to repair trust after breaching it. To apologise - properly, which is hard -, to talk through the failure, to take whatever steps are necessary to demonstrate that next time, they *will do better. (Admittedly, they can't do that without my consenting to it. And admittedly, it's something I find very difficult to do in my turn.)

I've very little doubt you'll do the necessary. That makes you, in my book, far more fundamentally trustworthy than the person who has attained such perfection that he has yet to show himself an arsehole, but who may very well not be able to admit to it when, inevitably, he does.

Doesn't mean you're not an arsehole. (Who isn't, from time to time?) Just that it's not a terminal condition.

wendy said...

Oh my. I hate that feeling too. I think that one of the hardest aspects of my job is the need to balance direct care with the indirect but necessary stuff that takes my time and energy and that sometimes means I'm rushed or stressed. I, too, have promised myself I would do better next time. I hope that I mostly succeed, though I know that I also sometimes fail. I believe that is part of being human...not a pleasant part, granted. It's the recognition that we must strive that is important, I think.

Kei said...

Ah, so you are fallable, just like the rest of us. And still learning, just like the rest of us. Somehow I think the next time you're in a hurry, and someone wants a few seconds, you'll get a flash of the look on the fellow's face and you'll make the time to stop for a few seconds.
In the meantime, I'm sure the fellow will accept a heartfelt apology.
And don't get so down on yourself.

Anonymous said...

Yep, it's a horrible feeling knowing you have done wrong-very sobering and always brings me back to earth with a thud - the only silver lining I can find is that it makes me more accepting and understanding when I am at the receiving end of someone else's mistake.
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."
Samuel Beckett

lina said...

Better to do what you did and realize you did it, then to not recognize there was a problem at all.

Myrrien said...

and human...

I found myself in a "what would Dave do?" moment today when I was confronted with a guy with a learning disability who walked up to us in the cafe and started wanting to talk to my 2 1/2 year old son. I looked at the staff member with him who came after him eventually telling him off because some parents don't like people talking to their children. I was furious because that wasn't it at all. My son was safe but the guy was leaving himself at risk by talking to people particularly children he didn't know. The poor guy was distraught saying he was "sorry" repeatedly.

My Dave moment was whether I should try and put the staff member right about the reasons he should keep safe. I want to bring my son up knowing all groups of people in the community. I had myself all keyed up to do but hubbie talked me out of it with the reasonable - maybe she didn't mean it that way. Now I think he was wrong.

Nice to know Dave gets it wrong sometimes as well.

Ettina said...

Awhile ago I was working with an autistic girl who refused to go in the pool as we were supposed to, and I suggested forcing her into the pool. I'm really glad the other person working with her refused, and wish I could apologize to that girl (she stopped the program after that because her mom had been expecting her to only really like the pool and she didn't even like that, so I didn't see her again).

Michelle Hix said...

We've all been are just one step ahead by realizing it. You'll get a chance to redeem yourself hopefully!