I suppose that was how it started.
It was 1986 and my first job out of college was as a customer support person for New York Life Insurance Company. I must have been good at it, because I ultimately led a team of support individuals who catered to a five thousand plus field force of agents and office staff across the country. If it was broken, we needed to fix it. Even if it wasn’t broken, we needed to make the customer think we fixed it. And we did.
So, as I sit here writing this, the first week in January, I find myself mulling over the events of last year. After all, everyone loves a chance to start over, right? Now, I stopped making resolutions long ago…..but I cannot help but reviewing the year that was, and lo and behold, I came to find out that I have earned the title of SCHMUCK in 2021.
Now, to be clear, I’ve been called worse….by better. If I were to review my faults…. and the pet names that described them…schmuck is a downright flimsy attempt at character assassination. And how did I earn this auspicious title you ask ? It seems that the very same helpful and accommodating nature that propelled me up the ranks in the workplace, has also been noted as being a flaw that needed to be corrected.
I will admit that I do have the ‘fixer’ gene, and although it was mostly dormant early in life, it blossomed as more things…. and people in my life needed to be fixed. My daughter’s diagnosis of Autism just happened to coincide with my acquisition of the title Grand Poobah of Fixers (Flintstone reference).
However, at this time, I want to state for the record that I have no intention of changing this obliging trait. I know how it may look to outsiders, friends and family that witnessed events in my life. Situations and outcomes that would have soured the most optimistic and amicable person. Actions from individuals that would certainly warrant someone to write them off for good. Yup….I guess I do know a little about that.
You see, if you were ever important to me…..even if your importance has diminished, due to your own stupidity….I am unable to turn my back on you. Maybe it is my perpetual optimism (a trait that my girls helped me develop), or misguided support, cultivated by years of misplaced loyalty (a trait someone else taught me), but, If I ever had your back, I will probably always have your back, although likely to a lesser and more distant degree.
My ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes is the explanation for this trait. Empathy is something that is difficult to teach, and even more difficult to turn off, like an overflowing spigot, that you desperately try to close. I often wish I could. It would certainly make life easier sometimes.
So, during this annual time of reflection, I can say with confidence that I like the person I have become….except for my double chin….and maybe that weird noise I make when I breathe…..but other than that, I’m good, in a weird kind of way.
Besides, I have never been one to kick a guy.
At least not when he’s down.