Category Archives: Work
I’ve never considered myself a snob. Not an “I want to feel more important than someone else” snob, or a food snob or a music snob.
Especially not a music snob. How could I be when you can find me listening to just about anything on my Ipod? And when I say anything, I really do mean anything. The music on my beloved Ipod ranges from musical theater to punk and just about everything in between.
But even I, the person who knows all the lyrics to every song in the musical “Oklahoma,” have my limits.
And they were reached this week at the local Sheetz station.
I admit that I generally enjoy the music playing over the speakers while I pump gas. It tends to be fairly retro, so I can happily sing along to the Eagles or Lynard Skynard or Bob Segar while ignoring the dollar amounts flying by on the gas pump.
I used to think it was a great marketing strategy dreamed up by someone half my age: “Play old-time music, and those middle-aged people with their gas-guzzling SUV’s will be so distracted they won’t care about the cost of gas. They might even buy a made-to-order food item because they aren’t paying attention to the cost.”
I was wrong. Either that, or someone who developed the playlist for Sheetz had absolutely no clue what they were doing.
Because this time, as I swiped my debit card, I heard the strains of a song that took me back – but not in a good way. Instead, it was more like a fingernails scraping on a blackboard way. (For those of you who don’t know what a blackboard is – it’s the prehistoric version of a smart board.)
At first, I couldn’t believe I was actually hearing it. “Gonna f ind my baby gonna hold her tight. Gonna grab some afternoon delight. My motto has always been when it’s right it right. Why wait until the middle of the cold dark night.”
Really? It was only 7:30 in the morning and I was taking my 13-year old son to school.
Instead of putting me in a good mood, the song was irritating me. Really irritating me. Because, even though I don’t like the song, I know the words. So when I went inside to buy a coffee, I actually found myself singing along.
Singing along to one of the most obnoxious songs in history.
I tried voicing my complaint about the music selection to the clerk, but she gave me a completely blank stare, ignored my complaint and asked if I needed anything else. When I told her that what I really needed was for her to change the music, I got another blank stare.
So I reverted to my only other option.
I posted my complaint about the music on Facebook.
By the time I got to the office, there were several comments about my Facebook post, including one trying to convince me the song was actually about the menu at a restaurant and not about an afternoon tryst. But others were eager to set that person straight. And while I appreciated the support, none of the comments were helping get the song out of my head. It was just there.. repeating over and over again.
And since I was suffering, I felt the need to make others suffer. So, I brought the song up on an office computer and made my co-worker listen to it.
Not only was she not happy, but my boss, who had been in an executive committee meeting, took that exact moment to leave the meeting and come into our office. He sauntered over to the computer and asked what I was doing.
What could I say? There, in all its glory was the Starland Vocal Band, singing about rubbing sticks and stones together and making sparks ignite. If the lyrics weren’t bad enough, the band members’ horrible hair and the bell-bottoms were.
My boss glanced at my computer and said, “Hey, I remember that kind of music,” then walked away.
I decided Facebook was safer. I clicked off the video and back onto Facebook. I decided to “like” the comment from the person who said she thought she saw a blog coming on.
And, to her credit, there was.
There are a lot of ways to define success. My definition often depends on my mood and on the balance in my check book.
But most of the time, I fall back on the definition that just seems to make the most sense: Success isn’t measured by the size of your bank account, by the number of people who admire you (or who fear you) or by the number of awards you’ve received. Success is defined by the positive difference you make in the lives of others.
I say that because I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by successful people. These are people who humble me. People who make me want to be a better person. People who give far more than anyone would ever expect, and in many cases, far more than I am capable of giving myself.
I’m more than simply fortunate. I’m down right grateful. If it weren’t for these successful people, I couldn’t do my job.
For those of you who don’t know what I do, you aren’t alone. I’m not sure my husband even knows what I do.
Sometimes I tell people that I work in the community to address health and human service issues. Sometimes I tell people that I get to spend the money that others raise for the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle. And sometimes I tell people that I herd cats.
But none of those simple descriptions defines the scope of my job: every day, I get to work with a wide variety of community members who simply want to make a difference in the lives of others. And I get the privilege of watching them succeed.
During this past week, when some of these committed volunteers were deliberating over the best way to invest donor dollars, an article that mentioned that United Way of the Eastern Panhandle was published in our local paper, the Martinsburg Journal. Twenty years ago, this article would have simply been an account of an event . But, thanks to the internet, people can now anonymously express their opinion about every article. Or the content of every article. Or their perceived content of every article. Or about any person, business, or organization mentioned in the article.
In this case, people took the opportunity to bash the United Way. The comments ranged from claiming the United Way is a racist organization to claiming that we use donor dollars inefficiently. For anyone familiar with the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, these individuals obviously don’t understand the organization. Or more importantly, they don’t understand WHO the United Way is. Most likely, they don’t care.
While the internet has added so many wonderful opportunities — from social networks that let us re-connect with people from our past to a wide variety of information at our fingertips – – it also provides the opportunity for people to hide behind anonymous names and cruelly attack just about anything and anyone. Not only do they spew their negativity as though they were are an authority on the subject of they day, but they seem to take pride when others take the bait. And, unfortunately, these people mistakenly believe they are thriving. But they aren’t – – quite the opposite, in fact.
Thriving people are those who spend their time and energy building others up rather than tearing others down. The kind of people who I’m surrounded by every day:
- Staff and volunteers who work for nonprofit, service and faith-based partner organizations, and who have such passion for a cause that they often put the needs of the organization and the clients above their own.
- Community members who raise dollars that are used to make a measurable difference in the lives of others, such as a local businessperson who continues to ask for donations despite being turned down again and again and again.
- Individuals who donate what they can, even when they are struggling to make ends meet. These are people who, even when they don’t have an extra penny in their pocket, will hold a fundraiser so they can still give something. (Interesting, studies have shown that lower income people give a larger percentage of their income to charity than do the rich . Some experts think this is because they have needed help or have a family member or friend who has received assistance, and they know how important giving back is.)
These are the most successful people I know. Because, despite the size of their bank account, despite their educational status and despite the number of times they’ve been criticized, they are making their little corner of the world a lot better.
And, ironically, they are so busy doing the right thing, they don’t have any time to do the wrong thing… or to post anonymous, critical comments online.