In the mix with compassion

And then I catch myself.

The person I was upset with yesterday. She’s 22, and she’s doing a very difficult thing. This sort of event – there’s so much left to the individuals. How can I expect a 22 year old who is just starting out in event work to understand the intricacies of etiquette around booking actors? It’s a language learnt over time. I’ve resolved to be nice to her today, and guide the things that she hasn’t learnt towards being things that she has learnt so that next time there are no disgruntled thesps. We can be a temperamental lot. And through being nice to her I’ve understood her better and learnt things about her, and through learning about her I’ve discovered compassion for her and admiration for all the things she HAS done in a very unfamiliar context and an office environment that can feel hostile because it’s so busy.

This is a temporary office. It’s a short term thing. It’s a huge team of people, some working very hard, some standing by to pick up the things that need picking up. Everybody is thrown in at the deep end to either sink or swim. Everybody is human, everybody feels and strives. Nobody wants to be made to feel like their best efforts are not good enough. Far better to accept, embrace and guide than to insist that someone’s way is wrong. I know that. I just forgot because I got angry.

It’s how I used to manage my teams of over 100 unskilled waiters. Other floor managers would manage with a rod of iron. I’d come in and try to find the strengths and joys, get to know them individually. If I could build my own team I’d build a team that was happy and efficient where people felt their work was valued. If things got crazy sometimes members of my team would cry TO me but they’d never cry BECAUSE OF me. At the end of the event we’d part as friends. It’s a form of leadership that only works if you trust other people and not just yourself.

I momentarily forgot to trust other people, based on some reactive messages I got from people whose welfare I feel responsible for. Now I’ve remembered again.

One of my drivers fucked up. She lost her phone, and all her cards, and her call time changed. She missed her call, caused the transport manager all kinds of hell, and I ended up being told she’d be fired. “Let me sit with her first,” I asked.

She is a friend of a friend. She needs the work. I know that much. I’ve never met her before. I took her on trust.

She pulled up in a lovely merc. I got in and got her to drive me. I felt a bit sick. I’ve never been on that side of that conversation. She’s a good driver. She was nervous though, word rolling over word, her reasons, a context for what happened. I mostly let her talk, just trying to sniff if she was likely to do it again. It’s only a few days. I was honest with her about the concerns. Better that way. This work might be short term but we have to rely on everybody to do their little bit as best they can. I think we can rely on her. I told them so. Better to err on the side of compassion. As I said the other day, as I maintain, kindness is king. Be kinder than you have to be.

If it bites me in the arse then it bites me in the arse. I don’t think it will. She is no fool. She fucked up. It happens. And often it happens more when you care.

Just before I met the driver, my friend told me a story of how she left her phone at her day job and got on the tube to go to a big audition, only realising she couldn’t check Google maps when she got out the other end and found her pockets empty. I thought I’d missed my audition for the Netflix I just did, and almost sacrificed the actual audition by getting myself into a state about an imagined error. We are extremely creative self-sabotagers when we want to be. I’m policing it in myself, and I’m going to be compassionate about it in others.

I spent all day driving in a dinner jacket. Audition in the morning. No time to change. And frankly it made me feel sexy.

This life.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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