Monday, January 18, 2010

Burning The Midnight Bridges

One of the many reasons behind my disdain of humanity is the destruction of faith caused when you trust people to know what they're doing instead if intervening, and then find out the hard way they don't. There's a fine line in angeldom; there's a certain degree to which you leave people to find the answers on their own, otherwise they'll never grow as a result of the experience. So at what point do you decide when they're ready to have their epiphany and when they need the push in that direction? Normally it's not an issue because our typical assignments are people at crisis points. But you never know. And if you hesitate, you run the risk of your subject hurting the people around them.

Case in point, there's a man trying to provide for his family, let's call him Reggie. So Reggie works in an office, so it's not an issue of earning overtime for the extra money. What he's doing is putting in extra work in an attempt to get ahead. His hope is to pay dividends down the road by earning promotions and extra money. But in the present, he's missing out on his family. His wife and children miss him and feel his work ethic is only hurting them. But this isn't the reason I had to go to him. The problem is he feels the same way. He's miserable without the people he loves, but feels he needs to reach his goal. When I was first handed the job, I spent some time observing, hoping he'd wise up. Eventually his ten year old daughter came hope with a test score she was proud of, but there was no daddy to share the good news with. When he finally did come home early enough to see her, tired and cranky, he coldly brushed her off, telling her, "Just show me later, ok?" When she started tearing up, I knew it was time to go to work.

I went to his office posing as a freelance temp one night when he was still working at 2 in the morning. With his inhibitions lowered from fatigue, confessed his dilemma. I told him, "You know, a lot of people are so goal oriented that they never stop to think about what they have."

"But you gotta see the big picture," he said. "You don't think about things down the road, you'll never accomplish anything."

"You'll never be happy either," I said. "There's always gonna be another goal: if you're a supervisor, you wanna be a senior supervisor. Then an executive, then a vice-president or whatever, then the next rung and the next. Life just becomes a series of steps, and no matter where you are, you always feel you're in a state of inferiority. But you have a family. Lots of people don't. You don't have to be company president to take joy from that."

He said, "Maybe,"and I pretended to go back to work. I wasn't sure if I got through to him, but the next night, he left at seven o'clock. It's a start.

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