Today may be Valentine’s Day but some of us chug and churn along alone in both work and our personal lives. I call it the “only person syndrome.” Never more did this hit home to me until my kitchen drain clogged Sunday evening. But I learned something from the experience, something I knew in my heart before, as well as something I intend to apply in a couple of ways in both personal and business life.
Sunday evening I was (and still am, at least the side effects of the medication) getting over a bout with the flu so a clogged drain was one of the last things I needed. When this happened to my late Mom and Dad, they knew what to do. As I write in my memoir:
When it came to getting things done around the house, if Mom and Dad couldn’t do it themselves, they turned to friends and colleagues. Dad worked as a timekeeper for Canadian National Railway and somewhere in the bowels of Union Station, he met up with Ken, the singing plumber. When house pipes burst, Ken arrived, and after he fixed the offending plumbing device, he let his pipes loose – he sang opera, loud, gregarious, but not to the height of breaking the glass top of the door between the living room and front hall.
(Excerpted from the memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)
However, I don’t have a “Ken” in my life. So I turned to my neighbour friends who do this type of work. No help from these neighbours who I had thought were my friends; we help each other out… or so I thought.
One exception here. One of my neighbours was sick and so he was immediately forgiven and I wished him a speedy recovery. One of the other neighbours refused to help with excuses of what he was going to be too busy doing the next day and evening (I had specifically said I didn’t expect anyone to come over late on a Sunday evening). He proceeded to give me a long list of suggestions plus he said he didn’t know anything about such a situation. I know the latter isn’t true and from what I saw yesterday I have my doubts about some of the excuses. As much as it would have hurt, I would prefer he had said he didn’t want to help me with this. Monday morning I called my some-of-the time handyman, and bless his heart, he came over within a few hours and cleared the sucker. His fee was reasonable and he gave me a three-month warranty.
So, what is the lesson? How can I apply it in my personal and business life?
The lesson is two-fold. The bottom line is we have to trust ourselves to fix things in our lives and not really depend on others. I don’t mean we have to learn all trades and be all things. But when push comes to shove, we need to be careful whom we ask for help. Friends may not be the best answer (and really from previous experiences with another friend, I should’ve known this) so consider other options – from other professionals to ourselves.
Of course (and I have to stick this in) it helps if we have a partner, a significant other, even a sibling, who we can rely on at least for support, and sometimes help. Those of us living the “only person syndrome” can’t. However, we have another option…find someone else on our radar who is in a similar situation and offer that person support and ask for his or hers and I don’t mean running over to fix the plumbing. A buddy-type support, whether by phone or email or maybe sometimes in person when the going gets rough on one person’s side. The situation will switch and both individuals will have a chance to listen or lean on the other.
In these tough economic times, especially for us self-employed, this can often be the tipping point that gets someone moving in a positive direction – a job lead, a step out of the miasma of hopelessness and maybe a good laugh or two. It’s worth a try and I’m going to do this as soon as these medication side effects ease off (not drowsiness or anything with the brain working, for anyone wondering). I have someone in mind on the professional level.
Next week I want to go into how laughter can help our health and well-being.
Only Child Writes