Friday, 19 June 2015

Poorly Learnt Lessons

I try, when I remember to, to bear in mind the saying, “Everyone provides an example; some to follow and some to avoid”.  There are some people to emulate, and some people to consciously attempt not to, or more accurately, certain things about people to emulate, and certain things, often about the same people, to avoid.  I also try to remember the prayer, “Lord, may I see myself as others see me, and see others as You see them.”

It is far too easy to become judgmental and arrogant about other people, and I am well aware that this is a serious fault within myself, and despite my (often far from-) best efforts I do judge and look down upon other people.  However, I also try and draw lessons from them as well.  Unfortunately, it seems that I require the same lessons repeating on occasion.

Those of you with the signal good taste and excellent good fortune to have read my book, Three Men on a Pilgrimage (Link to the right, tens of copies sold nationwide, available online and from all good bookshops, the book already being described as ‘By Thomas Jones’) will be familiar with the chapter in which the eponymous characters encounter the shop assistant who’s constantly harassed by an old man to further reduce the price of the items he’s reducing at the end of the day, and the epiphany that the shop assistant had that the way the old man acted was exactly how he acted towards God.  I can reveal that this is based on a true story.  I was that shop assistant, during my incarceration in a supermarket, and the old man is based on a real person (or rather persons).  Having had the realisation, I attempted to act more kindly towards them.

Several years have passed, and I finished my sentence in retail and was released into a office role at an international company.  I work in the country headquarters, but we have numerous salesmen based around the country who travel about visiting customers.  One of my jobs is to send out brochures, catalogues and demonstration equipment, and as a result I am frequently contacted by the salesmen to send literature to customers, or send demonstration equipment to themselves.  Others phone because they’re on the road, and want me to check our database for a phone number or address for a customer.  They’ll frequently tell me that I’m a ‘star’ or ‘my best mate’.  On those rare occasions when they visit the head office, they will often pass through the part of the office I work in and won’t give me a glance, let alone the time of day.  Now don’t get me wrong, they’re all decent, pleasant people, and they're extremely busy, so they’re hardly to be blamed if it’s a bit ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for them.

Nonetheless, this used to annoy me, and I’ve complained to the people unfortunate enough to sit near me about the fact that I don’t seem to be their ‘best mate’ when they don’t want something.  Then, like a hammer to the brain, I realised that I’d just made exactly the same mistake as before.

“Hi God, my best mate!  Could you just...”

“Hi God, how are you?  Just a quick job for you…”

“Hi God, if it’s alright, I just need…  Thanks very much, you’re a star!”

“What?  Oh, God, it’s you.  No, I don’t need anything right now.  Why are you bothering me?”

I like to think that I’m reasonably intelligent, but that clearly doesn’t equate to being able to learn things easily.  I have resolved (if I remember to!) not to mind that they only tend to speak to me when they need something, and not to complain about it, or make sarcastic comments, either to them or my colleagues.  We’ll see how long I can keep that up for…

Everyone provides an example, some to follow, some to avoid.  Very often, the person whose example needs avoiding most is me.  I just need to be willing to learn my own lessons, as well as those of other people.

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