The Skateboard Pup -- who now resembles not at all the disaffected ragamuffin I first met almost three years ago -- was irate over a comment one of the Big Bosses at work made to him regarding when he arrives on the job. I let him go on for a while, as I had a good seat by the window of the cafe and the people watching was particularly fine. He's learned, to his chagrin, that I do not need to be looking at him to hear every word. As I've gotten older my ability to recall proper nouns as quickly as I want seems to have degraded a bit, but I find my auditory memory is as sharp as ever. Perhaps God will bench me on the sponsor front if that starts to go, but for now I've still got game.
Oh look, I started writing about someone else and within just a few sentences started talking about myself again. <sigh> (The ego is an implacable sparring partner.)
So the SBP and I were at a new cafe, having a hot cuppa on a blustery afternoon, as he quietly raged against the indignation of accountability.
And brother, if you want a sympathetic ear on that, I am simultaneously the very best and the very worst kind of coffee date - because oh! do I get it and oh! do I have no patience for it. (The ego is a complicated sparring partner.)
He was genuinely angry.
It's the little things that really bug, right?
We join his rant in progress...
Skateboard Pup: And I'm like, their Number One! Almost every month! Shouldn't that afford me some... I don't know... some kind of leeway? Or like a perk or something?
I looked at him and shrugged slightly. He chose to interpret this as "Oh, please do go on" rather than the "mmmaybe" it was a little closer to.
SBP: So you know they moved, right? It's twice as far as it was before. I get up like, a half hour earlier and I feel like that's fair.
This time I raised my eyebrows. "fair" is such a foolish thing to complain about past the age of about ten. The problem is, alcoholics are such a textbook case of (among other things) arrested development. He correctly interpreted my eyebrow raise as a flag on the field.
SBP: Okay, okay. Not fair exactly but... that's all I'm willing to do.
I kept looking at him.
SBP: Well, I mean that's all I'm willing to do right now. I'm not saying... it's just... I took the job based partly on the commute, and...
Mr. SponsorPants: Okay, let me stop you right there.
Mr. SP: You didn't "take this job based partly on the commute..." That's bullshit. Now you're just working yourself up because you feel wronged. As I remember it you hoped and prayed and did a lot of footwork to get this job, and when they offered it to you - at a wage which was, as you said at the time I believe "...sweet! It's like almost twice what I made before, and with commission it could be... I can't even..."
I stopped. For me, part of the challenge as a sponsor is not to interrupt someone else's self-righteous speechifying with my own self-righteous speechifying about their self-righteous speechifying. (The ego is a nimble sparring partner.)
Mr. SP: Look, if you want to talk to the Big Boss about extending you some flexibility on this issue, then do so. But bring them the sober man, not the petulant sneak and not the grandiose brat who thinks the rules don't apply to him, and in a professional manner make your case. But the issue is also very simple.
I paused. He waited.
Mr. SP: There are three ways to get to work: Early, on time, or late. Pick one. It really is that simple.
The SBP looked for a moment like he might argue the point, but shrugged and grinned.
SBP: Fair enough. I get that. But what about the fact that I already get up earlier, and that sometimes it takes longer to...
I held up my hand.
Mr. SP: Kiddo, that's all about your process. They don't care about your process. They're only interested in the result.
He ran his hand through his hair and laughed a little.
Mr. SP: I know. Believe me. I'm wired the same way. I always want to pay with the wrong coin, or measure with the other yardstick.
SBP: Doesn't it get easier? I mean, don't you catch yourself more and not do it as much?
Mr. SP: I guess. Though I think what has really happened for me is that I have a sense of humor about it now. I'm on to myself much more, yes, but I laugh at myself more too.
SBP: Ok. I guess I can look forward to that.
(The ego is a favorite sparring partner.)