Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking Responsibility

This is one I wrote a long time ago, when I was still married.  It's simplistic but makes a point, and having since gone through a divorce I realize that the blame game continued.  Maybe re-reading it will allow me to try again.

I went fishing last Saturday.  It started out as such a pleasant day;  little did I know how miserable a day it would be.  I kissed my wife and daughter goodbye at the dock and boarded the boat on a crisp, sunny, windless day with my fishing gear in hand.  We spent the entire day fishing but I didn't catch a single fish.  I know that when I go fishing I should be able to catch fish (that's why they call it fishing) so I was angry.

I decided that someone had to pay for this travesty so I contacted the manufacturer of my boat to complain.  I was immediately transferred to their legal department and was told that the boat was intended to take people out on the water and bring them home without having to swim.  Had that been the case?  Yes I responded but I didn't catch any fish and it's a fishing boat.  I was put on  hold for a moment and when he returned I was told firmly that the boat is designed to be used for fishing if so desired by the owner but that is  not it's purpose and it had done what it was intended to do, ie get me out and back safely.

Next I called the company that makes the fishing hooks I used.  I felt sure I had a winner this time.  I explained how I had spent the day fishing but had caught nothing and since fishing hooks are certainly intended to hook fish, their product had failed, ruined my day, and I wanted some sort of recompense.  They were very sympathetic but detailed how they had just paid a huge lawsuit settlement to someone who had accidentally been stuck by one of the hooks while fishing.   They had just enough money left to print warning labels on the hook packages and couldn't pay me a penny.

By this time I was really angry because no one was willing to take responsibility for my bad day.  I called the federal government to talk to someone in fisheries management.  They were certainly going to have to face the music.  I got a phone menu that warned me to listen carefully since the menus had changed but when I had listened to them I realized they were exactly the same as they were last month when I called to get a fishing information packet.  I punched in my social security number and waited.  Finally someone came on the line and asked me for my social security number.  "I just punched it in", I explained.  "Please hold" she said.  After 40 minutes of waiting I hung up because I got hungry.

"What's for dinner honey?" I called out.  No reply.  I walked to the kitchen and found a note to me on the table.  I opened it to find a letter from my wife's attorney threatening a lawsuit since she had prepared to cook fish for dinner last saturday and I failed to bring any fish home after going fishing, causing her emotional trauma and wasted preparation time.

That night, alone in my bed, I dreamed that I went out fishing and didn't catch anything.  However, I saw a manatee and porpoises.  I saw flying fish and sea turtles.  I felt excited going through a rough inlet and being splashed.  I woke up in a sweat, confused and decided that it was just stress causing this nightmare.

The following day the fish and game commission returned my call.  "Were  you the only one on the boat?" the agent asked me.  "No", I replied.  "Did anyone else catch any fish?", he continued.  "Yes, actually quite a few people caught fish", I told him.  "Did it ever occur to you", he asked, "that maybe it was your own fault that you didn't catch anything?  That maybe sometimes we have bad days or bad luck?"

The more I thought about this, the more sense it made.  Perhaps it wasn't the fault of the fishing line, or the boat, or anything else.  Maybe I had learned an important lesson, that sometimes things won't go my way but that it doesn't have to be anyone's fault.  Maybe this sense of responsiblity could be a good thing.   Maybe if I spread the word to others, led by example, life would be better;  and maybe my wife would come back.

No comments:

Post a Comment