I dropped into the Library today to pick up an item they’d emailed me about. Brief digression, I’m not sure when libraries became so cooperative, not only facilitating inter-library loans but also shipping the materials to your own branch, but gratitude abounds. Perhaps I take out more books and CDs than I might otherwise, perhaps I don’t fully read or listen to them, but wow and thanks and yippee-ky-yo-ky-yay! What a boon.
Back to the rant. “Doesn’t sound like a rant,” sez you. “This isn’t just a column about libraries,” sez I.
Early in the day, so the library was quiet, calm, I couldn’t remember which item they’d emailed me to pick up so I looked in the book section, in the CD section, nuthin. Approached two librarians in close conversation, one looked up immediately and asked if she could help me – “Still no rant,” you say, tapping your foot with impatience. I said yes, thank you, that I was unable to find my materials, I handed her my card, we did the computer lookup do-sa-do, and she informed me that it was a CD. We returned to the CD furniture, my name begins with “Ma” so CDs are usually near the “M” divider card, but no CD. She looked at the back of the “L” row and lo! and behold, there it was. She informed me that I’d looked in the wrong place, handed me the CD, asked if she could help with anything else, I said no, end of story.
Once I’d checked out, on my way out of the building, my blood began to boil. “Disproportionate to the occasion?,” you ask. Yup, that’s how I know that my buttons have been pressed.
I walked back in, she saw me coming and raised her eyebrows, I asked her to meet me at the CD furniture and she did. I pointed out the “M” card, and indicated where my CD had been found. She said, “I know that.” I replied quietly – almost hissing, truth be told – “I wasn’t wrong.”
“Finally,” sez you, “the rant.”
Any director I’ve ever worked with, any actor or stage manager or just person in the world will tell you that when I’m wrong, I’m the first person to say ‘thank you’, learn from the experience, and move on. And I’m the last person to accuse anyone of incorrectitude unless I’m absolutely certain of it (see above, I rechecked the “M” card’s position and what was printed on it before I asked the librarian to join me). Because there are many, many variations on correct and incorrect, and I try hard to stay open to them all.
I’m sick to effing death of being corrected WHEN I AM NOT WRONG. Yes, we all have masses of information at our fingertips, glops of knowledge, whangdoodles of education– BUT.
Maybe it’s a self-esteem issue. Maybe, as Cousin Marilyn points out, everyone is scared. Maybe it’s not unrelated to some (many) people’s inability to permit the words ‘I’m sorry’ to pass their lips at all, much less with sincerity. We’re all so desperate to be seen, to be heard, acknowledged, recognized, that many eschew the one thing that will garner that attention: giving those things to another before they give them to us. Owning up to our behavior and making amends before we’re punished. Responding as the Big Band (honestly, I wish someone would tell me whether it was Ellington’s or Basie’s) did when something didn’t go well: no one laid blame and each member asked himself, “What can I do to make this better?” NOT telling people they’re wrong.
Particularly when they’re not.