It’s the beginning of a new year
…and I would like to talk about responsibility. This is not a political post by any means so if you are headed down that road – please don’t. I am talking about personal responsibility – both good and bad. There were two situations in December that stood out to me and caused me to dig a bit deeper.
The first one starts with a phone call. I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten that call but it can be terrifying – the “I’m lost call”.
My mother has a caregiver to live with her and help her because of the Alzheimer’s. Today at work my phone rings and it is my mom on the other end saying “I’m in Walmart and I can’t find my caregiver.”
Talk about pure panic on my part. To put it in perspective a bit – the day before I had just gotten a call from my mom asking me what her own phone number was. So, the thought of her being alone in Walmart was not a good one.
Most Walmart’s are close to very busy roads for easy access and this one was no different. As much as I told my mom to stay exactly where she was, I had no guarantee she would remember that 3 minutes later. Would she walk out into the parking lot looking for her car that she can’t drive anymore? Would she try to walk home which is miles away and she doesn’t remember? I had no idea but I knew it was very cold, very icy and I was very scared.
I called her caregiver immediately and asked her where she was. Her response to me was “I was looking at something and your mom walked away from me.” No remorse, no I’m sorry – only blame that the Alzheimer patient that she was supposed to watch walked away from her. If I sound angry I am. Her sole responsibility is to watch my mom.
How a 75 year old woman walks far enough away from a caregiver to be lost is beyond my comprehension. Even so, had her caregiver shown even a bit of remorse and said “I’m so sorry, I got distracted and I didn’t see where she went,” I would’ve been more understanding. We are all human and things can happen. But to take no responsibility for it angered me to the core.
Thankfully, that day my mom had enough cognitive ability to call me and tell me she was lost, and I was able to help them find each other but what about tomorrow?
The second situation was a much happier one and I was able to be part of something amazing…
For 10 years now we have been doing “The Giving Tree”. For those of you who aren’t aware, we partner with our clients and friends to sponsor families in Allentown who wouldn’t be able to afford Christmas.
The Conference of Churches sends over a list from each person of things they need as well as some things they would like. As I would looking through some of the lists, I saw a request for some Leslie Vernick books. If you haven’t heard of her, you are missing out. She is a well-known author and has helped too many people to count with her books…. but I digress.
So, as I said, I was looking through the lists and saw that Samantha (not her real name) wanted a book from Leslie Vernick. My wheels started turning and I got excited because I am good friends with someone (Kari) who used to work for her. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, I would be able to get a signed book for Samantha.
I reached out to Kari and asked her if it would be possible to ask Leslie for a book. Kari immediately said she thought Leslie would love to do that and she would contact her right away. I soon got a message saying “Hillary, Leslie will sign and send the books… Can you send me the address of where you want them to go. Thanks!” I was ecstatic that we would be able to give such a special gift to Samantha.
Not only did Kari go out of her way to reach out to Leslie to get the books, she followed up a few weeks later to make sure we had received the books. Kari doesn’t know Samantha, is not part of our Giving Tree initiative, and really had no responsibility to do anything else. Quite honestly, Kari could’ve forgot about the situation because she had already done her part to help and walked away feeling like she did some good. But she didn’t, she took it one step further and followed up.
And you know what- we hadn’t received the books yet. Had Kari not followed up I honestly don’t know if we would have. Most likely Leslie hadn’t sent them yet because it’s Christmas and it’s a crazy time of year for everyone. But, because Kari took that extra step and viewed it as her own responsibility there were two women (me and Samantha) who were in joyful tears when Samantha opened the book and saw a note that said…
“Dear Samantha, (a personal note)……. Leslie Vernick”
Seeing the look on Samantha’s face was a moment I will always treasure, and I am more than grateful to have been part of it.
In the first situation someone took no responsibility and in the second one someone went above and beyond.
My father taught me growing up the four most dangerous words in the human language are “it’s not my fault” which I also translate as “it’s not my responsibility.” I hope and pray that I will always be more like Kari and take the extra step to not only take on a task that isn’t my responsibility but choose to make it my own in order to help.
I want to be the kind of person that makes an effort to help in areas that I don’t have to, so that someone else can experience the tears of joy and gratitude that I got to be part of that day.
In this new year, I hope we can all be more like Kari and make it our resolution to take responsibility to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of the good you have found with technology.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.