The Union Recorder

Columns

February 8, 2014

ROWLAND: Some days it is better just to stay in bed

MILLEDGEVILLE — You ever had one of those days where you kept asking yourself why you even got out of bed? Me too. Happened just last week.

Before I get into all of that, let me give a little context. I began my first summer job when I was 14 years old. I worked for the local recreation department keeping score for baseball and softball games in the summer, football games in the fall, and basketball games in the winter.

Now I don't know if you have been to a recreation league ballgame lately, but it seems that the focus of such events has turned away from teaching the game or even from winning and losing. It is all about how to discredit the umpire, or the scorekeeper, or whoever the heck it is that is in charge at the moment.

Back in my day, things weren't really much different.

So, I began at a tender age down the path of a life that always seemed to be in conflict with someone. That trend continued when I became a teacher.

For some parents, it is never about what their child did or about holding them accountable. It always seems to be about discrediting the teacher, or the principal, or the ball coach, or whoever the heck seems to be in charge at the moment.

In some moment of weakness or perhaps after a night of heavy drinking, I decided to become a principal. A high school principal at that.

The trend continued. Seldom did I encounter a parent or student who was more interested in learning from experience than they were in passing the blame along to someone else.

Thirty years later, I finished my career in charge of most of the operational aspects of a school district. But the trend never changed.

The bus driver was wrong, the lunchroom worker was wrong, everybody was wrong. The child was never at fault, and most kids I encountered who held that perspective had learned it from their parents.

I have to tell you that by the time I hung it up, I was just about worn out from conflict, controversy, and adversarial relationships. The one good thing that came from all of that was that I finally realized that I can't really control the crazy attitudes held by others. I can only control how I respond to them.

I also learned that feelings belong to the person who holds them, and it is the owner of those feelings who is the sole arbiter of when they are hurt. If you tell me I hurt your feelings, then I did. I must have because those feelings belong to you, and you are the only one who can say when they are hurt.

See how it works?

Truth is, that way of thinking freed me up to make sincere apologies any time I got crossways with someone with whom I had a relationship. We say it's all about relationships, but if we truly felt that way, we would apologize more and argue less.

I tell you all of that to say this. I hurt someone's feelings this week, and it's been bugging me ever since.

Oh, I apologized, but I should know better. Especially with all of the experience I have in the world of the argumentative, disrespectful, point the finger the other way game. I don't mind making a mistake, but those are the kinds of mistakes I just shouldn't make.

So, I came home from work frustrated and with a list of things I need to tend to in the realm of just good old everyday life experience. My list included, pay a bill, cancel my satellite radio service, and have a conversation with my well-being coach.

That's right. A well-being coach!  My satellite radio and well-being coach experience are stories for another day. Trust me on this one. A storyteller like me shouldn't pass up two golden opportunities like those.

Back to the bill I have to pay. I write the check, put it in the envelope, seal it up, and set it aside. At the same time I decide to tackle the satellite radio folks, my well-being coach calls. By the time I get done convincing the well-being coach that I really don't need to set any personal goals and I listen to all of the ways the satellite radio people wish to keep me as a customer, well I am just spent.

I see the bill, remember that it needs to go into the mail, grab it up and take it down to the mailboxes in my apartment complex, and drop it into the slot. Some of you may know that I have embarked on a second career that requires me to live out of town during the week, thus the reference to an apartment complex.

About the time the envelope containing the aforementioned bill hits the bottom of the outgoing box, it hits me. No stamp; no return address.

I'll just have to tell you - that was the icing on what was otherwise a very sour piece of cake.

Now, I am a very resourceful person. My days are spent solving problems, but I have to tell you this one has me perplexed. If I don't figure out how to get a stamp on that envelope, well that bill payment is headed for the lost and never to be found mailbag.

I'll have to tell you that there is something about getting older that makes it easier to admit a mistake, especially if it means weaseling out of a predicament. So Wednesday afternoon, I get home a little early hoping I can catch the mail lady at the boxes.

I rehearse my lines all day. Sure enough, at 4:15 when I roll in she is parked at the entrance preparing for her 30-minute mail delivery session.

I run inside, get a stamp, hustle back to the mailbox, and tell the nice lady what a goofball thing I have done. With the pleasantness of a funeral home director, she puts down everything she is doing, opens the outgoing box, retrieves my stamp-less envelope, chuckles a little at my predicament, and goes on about her work.

I put the stamp on the envelope and return it to the outgoing box. Mail problem solved.

Next week just has to be better.

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