In my office we have a new temp named Lynn. She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The printing of 340 letters on letterhead on our ginormous copier/fax machine/scanner/printer would have taken me six hours and cost the lives of numerous rainforests across the globe. For Lynn, it took ten minutes and she wasted only two pieces of paper. The mail merge that I thought I could whip up in seconds? Well, it did take seconds…like maybe an hour’s worth of seconds. And it still wasn’t done correctly. Lynn on the other hand, she did do it in seconds. Four seconds. I adore her with every fiber of my being. Swoon.
I was in a meeting yesterday with colleagues and I was going on and on about how Lynn has changed my life and how grateful I am for her presence on our team. This was followed by silence and awkward glances. Ummm…am I the only one in love with Lynn?! Interrupting the awkward silence I cleared my throat and asked “how long is she with us again?” I was then told that it was supposed to be until June, and could have been for longer, but that she’d blown it. My precious Lynn had blown it?! What…other than working at the speed of light, being proactive, and solving every one of my work-related problems (aside from bringing in millions) could she possibly have done?!
It was recently announced internally that a member of our staff who assists executives was being promoted, and thus, her position is open for applicants both internally and externally. In a meeting last week the head of our department made the announcement again and asked us to let him know if anyone was interested.
Lynn, a (glorious) woman in her 50s, went straight to the woman this position would report to and expressed her interest. I told you the broad was proactive, right? Well, it seems, that this was NOT the right thing to do. The woman came to our department head, steaming mad, and expressed that someone in our department had the audacity to go directly to her to express interest in the position without going through the proper channels. Even though Lynn passes this woman’s office several times a day. Even though this woman passes Lynn’s cube every day. Lynn, apparently, skipped a step and thus is not only not being considered for the open position but we’re thinking of letting her go early.
Wait…wait…wait. Am I missing something here?! Did I miss one of those memos in which someone important has rules that dictate we don’t look them in the eye, we should be shorter than them at all times, and they only eat green M&Ms thank you very much?! I mean, we are all people after all, right?! Seriously. I’m asking the question.
Since when did being human become something you can opt out of?
A long time ago my little brother (yeah, okay fine, he’s way taller than me and “little” doesn’t actually work for him anymore) and I were driving. It was winter and in my neck of the woods that means cold, icy, snowy, and on this particular day, windy. We were driving past an area of town that is dense with group homes and senior assisted living. There was a woman who was in a wheelchair who had crossed the street and was trying to get onto the next block but the combination of ice/snow/wind made it impossible without help. And yet cars passed, people passed, and nobody stopped to help. I drove past, realized nobody was helping, and turned around to go back because…seriously? What was this poor woman going to do if she couldn’t even get onto the sidewalk?!
Thing is…I see things similar to that often…and I only DO something about it every once and awhile. And I wonder…is anyone else stepping-up when I’m not (I usually convince myself that someone else will help)? And then I wonder…will my little girls grow up treating each other as humans if they don’t see us doing it as often as we can?
I grew up with a woman who would literally pull over and offer her umbrella if she saw a mother with kids walking in the rain without one. A woman who once, when we were at Perkin’s for dinner on a random night and we saw kids eating their pre-prom meal there, paid for it herself. A woman who taught me how to be charitable and kind. I’ve worked to raise my little girls to understand those principles as well. However, we’ve been charitable as a family in a much more “organized” manner, and I’m not sure it lends itself to also teach them to be good human beings to other human beings. In church they learn about the great need in other countries but what about the need of our neighbors and more importantly the need to treat one another kindly.
I want them to grow up with a soft spot for people. I want them to be appalled when they witness things like a woman being let go because she had the “audacity” to approach someone directly about a job. I want them to be compelled to act when they see people in need. Even if the need is small. But that, my friends, means I need to get my sh-t together. I need to be the kind of person I know I should be but sometimes ignore in hopes that someone else will do the dirty work of being human.
TODAY: What if opting out of being human is actually turning us into a society of a-sholes? What if I need to do a better job of being human myself in order for my little girls to grow up valuing kindness and treating one another with care and love?