Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Remember, mistakes mean you're a bad person.

I was briefly lost this afternoon.

My shopping and errands were (I thought) best done by going to two Fred Meyer stores, with a library stop, a bank stop and a fast food stop (Quzino's! They've got a pepper bar!!!*) in between. As do many of my Portland trips, this required walking and bus trips. I bussed up to the Hollywood Transit Center and started walking. And, eventually, in the wrong direction. I'd gotten my Portland layout turned around and diverted myself and went several blocks through what I figured was a cut-through route. Well, maybe, but NOT TO THE HOLLYWOOD FRED MEYER. It took my reaching NE Glisan (not, thank goodness, all the way to Southeast) for it to dawn on me that I was headed well away from the store. I started zig-zagging back towards it, remembering that NE 28th crosses I-84 and then goes past the Freddy's; yes, I was on the wrong side of the freeway by that point. Well on the wrong side.

I then imagined Robin, the maddening co-worker I no longer work with; I imagined her knowing I'd been lost, and I imagined her getting on my case and berating me for making a mistake.

That's one big sign I'm still getting over that job. I did it for 25 weeks (I kept track), one week shy of half a year, and I'd seen signs maybe a month-and-a-half into it that Robin was going to Stay On My Case. She'd made up her mind that I was useless and not to be trusted, and never mind that THE PEOPLE WHO WERE PAYING ME were satisfied with my work, she knew I was No Good and could therefore be an easy target. Which put me more and more on edge, and made it harder for me to do the work, and (here's where it gets REALLY maddening) made me start second-guessing too much of what I did.

As many of you know, it's hard to do a good job if you feel that no matter what you do, you're going to get something wrong. And that someone's going to berate you for that.

And my being wrong (no matter if most of the time I'd done the job right) meant that Robin could get on my case and be self-righteous about it. Rarely when anyone else was in earshot, by the way, of course. Oh, and by the way, at least once Robin showed me how to do one job, then when I did the job as she'd shown me, she chewed me out for getting it wrong. Again, as she'd shown me.

Today, I got something wrong. And I imagined Robin getting on my case about it. Because I've spent months knowing that she would get on my case, reinforcing her negative opinion of me and allowing her to feel Right. Never mind that all that happened was that I walked longer than planned, for several blocks in the wrong direction and then in a correcting direction, AND THAT'S ALL THAT HAPPENED; I didn't hurt myself or hurt anyone, I only wasted my own time, and hey, I got to see cool-looking neighborhoods I haven't seen before and I got a longer walk in so there's a silver lining -- but I could too easily imagine getting into trouble for making that mistake. Because of a toxic work environment I'd spent too much time in.

So yeah, I'm still getting over that place. And I'm trying to learn to do the psychological equivalent of Not Flinching. I can't be scared of making mistakes. That's a classic recipe for, guess what, making mistakes!

If I let Robin keep influencing me that way, then I negate a large chunk of the moral victory I achieved by getting out of that job.

This is my reminder to myself that being better doesn't require being perfect. Thank freakin' God.

And by the way, today's been a day of good stuff: errands done, a cool neighbor visited, long walks committed, warmth achieved. And good sleep. Good has happened. Never mind what a certain someone NOW OUT OF MY LIFE would think.

* Click on that link at YOUR RISK AND PERIL. That said, I get a kick out of those ads. I am a weird man.
Tags: creme de la chris, peregrinations, portland, work

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