Sunday, July 21, 2019

Doing the best they can

I have been surrounded by people with challenges this weekend. It's been exhausting, but it's also reminded me of my own humanity and the need for patience.

Henry. He is suffering from TBI after an accident last October. Sometimes he's fine, often he's not. He has no filter, and he can be paranoid. As hard as it is for me, it's harder for his coworkers. He works hard, but he can be difficult. Their complaints have made their way to the head of HR for the county. Henry called me Friday night, in tears, and we talked for more than two hours. Henry insists that everyone -- including me -- wants him to shut up, to deny who he is. He says he's a victim of white privilege and this is happening because he's gay, because he's dark skinned. That he's just like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and the county is like Trump.

This is drivel. I could tell by what he was telling me that the county is trying very hard to keep him. Maybe they are compassionate. Maybe they worry about the messiness of canning someone who is disabled. But they do want to keep him. The head of HR gave Henry his cell phone number and said, "Call me. Anytime."

"So call him," I said. "Instead of arguing with your coworkers, go straight to the head of HR. He wants to help."

"No! He wants to shut me up. You want to shut me up!"

Hours of tears. Hours of yelling. I felt depleted. I felt helpless. And, worst of all, I was resentful. I am not proud of that.

Mary. She's the head of the library volunteers. The only time I ever see her is when I work the annual library book sale. Yet she remembered me when I walked in. At 76, she's still sharp.

She's also officious. Persnickety. She takes her role as Queen of the Volunteers entirely too seriously.

Instead of grabbing her by the throat, I stopped to think. This is her job. This is her power base. She gets a lot of her identity from her role on the board of Friends of the Library, and this book sale is their #1 event of the year. THIS is her moment.

It wouldn't kill me to tamp down on the side eye for a few hours, would it?


  1. My mom belongs to our local chapter of Friends of the Library and while I greatly support what they do, her tales of all the snippy little power plays and drama that goes on among the officers (and from what I can tell, limits how successful they could be) keeps me from volunteering. I suspect it keeps a lot of people from volunteering and they are slowly dying out because of it.

    As for your phone calls with Henry...God bless you and the patience you've had through everything. I'll be praying that God gives you wisdom, compassion, and patience aplenty...and to know when to draw the line if that time comes.

  2. You are the friend I wish I was. I wish I could be more patient and compassionate when I get annoyed with my friends. And I'm going to try to remember your thoughts about Mary's power base, that's actually applicable to the school dynamics that swirl around me.


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