You should not liberate balloons because it upsets the people in the basket.
A simple enough statement, but a great metaphor for my life. I say my life, because often the things I hear are not the things people say nor what they mean. Just yesterday a female friend was explaining to me a conversation that she ought to have someone. This is what she said:
"I should just say to him, 'I would like to sleep with you and we can just remain friends.'"
I didn't hear the first bit. What I heard was,
"I would like to sleep with you and we can just remain friends."
Nearly choking on my drink, I spluttered and asked her to repeat that last bit. Which she did. Thus, clearing up any tiny misunderstanding on my part. It's those tiny misunderstandings on my part which have led to the most astounding results. Some good, some bad, often very funny.
At University, I got a job with the IITS department, which meant that I worked behind a counter lending out audio-visual equipment to staff and students. It was a secure job. It was at a university. It wasn't too taxing on the brain. It wasn't rocket science. I boasted to all my friends that it was a job you could have for as long as you cared to live. I got fired two weeks later.
I went on living (thankfully) a little baffled and embarrased. That's okay. I learned alot from that experience.
1. Never boast about getting an easy job or any job in fact.
2. If you think someone's instructions are stupid and misleading, they probably are -- always clarify.
3. What is my vocation other than noticing the blinding errors that pummel, bombard and flummox me?
The week leading up to my dismissal, had me scheduled to work a couple of evening shifts. The evening shifts are slow, and in such times the long-standing employees (those who got the job as a stop-gap measure 10 years ago and never seem to have left) tend to chat about the latest digital audio and visual equipment, and disappear into their computer screens eyeing the latest updates to their various geeky obsessions. In short, not much is happening. So, I was asked to go and move office furniture from one room (call it A418) to another (C472). These two rooms were on the same floor and about 3 doors apart. As with all institutions of higher learning, the numbering system of rooms defies all logic. (It turns out that it's okay, because apparently, I do too.)
I did as I was instructed. I had a mission. I wanted to please. It was EASY. Move this furniture from that room to another. That's all I was thinking. I did it. I went back to the IITS room and invariably lent audio/visual equipment until the end of my shift.
The following day I got a call at my home from the guy on shift at IITS, who was inquiring as to the whereabouts of the office furniture that I had been instructed to move. I told him where I moved it, citing the room numbers as I remembered them. He called back a half hour later to say that there had been a tiny misunderstanding and they had found the 'missing' office furniture. I thought no more of it, until I came on shift later that day and was told that I had got the room numbers confused. Personally, I think it was the 'long-standing' employee who had got the room numbers confused. It didn't matter anyway, because the big boss couldn't for the life of him understand why anyone in their right mind, would move furniture from a store room into an office space.
I couldn't stop laughing. I thought that was the funniest thing I had ever heard. I assured him that it would never happen again. He was assured by my reassurance and made sure of it by canning me a few days later. I recall sitting outside the IITS office, bewildered and chagrinned at having lost one of the easiest jobs I had ever gotten, wondering how I would tell all my friends of this misfortune.
It is worthy to note however, that in the same spirit of wanting to please, having a mission, performing an EASY task at a new job for a bicycle shop, I went (as instructed with the address given to me) into what I thought was a photocopy shop, but turned out to be a gay sauna and demanded from the proprietor behind the counter that he give me the FAX he had received on behalf of the bicycle shop. He blinked and looked at me, uncomprehending. He probably thought this was some kind of joke. It was. But it was I, not he, who was at the butt of a very, very big practical joke.
I can't help but feel that if there is a God, he/she/it is laughing out loud, in their godly kitchen, cooking up a new experience to bewilder and amuse me.