Our college president told us at convocation to never waste a crisis. She is an incredibly positive person, but she probably didn’t expect a crisis to come so soon. Friday, we started having problems with our computers; by Monday, nothing seemed to work. We were in the midst of a malware crisis. We couldn’t get online. We couldn’t even turn on our computers.
What struck me was the patience of the students. They came in the library. We told them the network was down, and they stopped in their tracks. But then they smiled and just found a chair to check their phones while they waited for their next class. A few were upset, which was understandable, but the majority took the news in stride.
Wednesday, I had an appointment at the mechanic’s. I’d waited for more than three months for a part (a downside of having a ten-year-old car), and it was finally in and ready to be installed. I drove over and settled in a chair with what seemed to be never-ending episodes of “Property Brothers” playing on the television in the waiting room. It was supposed to take no longer than two hours. Three hours later, an apologetic service manager walked up to me. The wrong part had been sent. They couldn’t get it to work. They would have to reorder, and I would have to return.
I would be lying if I said that it didn’t upset me. I felt a surge of irritation rise from my stomach to the top of my head. I felt a tone coming up in my response.
Then I had a moment of inspiration. Suddenly, I thought of those students who were so patient in the library, who didn’t fuss, who didn’t take out their frustration on the library staff.
I realized that the poor man in front of me wasn’t at fault. The mechanic who tried so hard to make the part fit wasn’t at fault. And the person who sent the wrong part didn’t do it on purpose. And by lashing out, I would only make everyone feel worse.
I shrugged. “These things happen.” And I made my appointment for Friday.
I don’t tell this story to make me look good. I tell it because a good example can really make a difference.
At the moment, we have a sheep on the lam (see what I did there?) in my neighborhood. She was part of a Scottish festival at a local park when she escaped. Sheep are not known for their brilliance, but she has managed to avoid capture now for more than a week despite several sightings.
She is now a local celebrity. She was on the local news. She has a Facebook page. And she has become the focus of many of us in our part of town. We want to get her home. After all, it’s hot. It’s a suburban part of town, so there are cars everywhere. And there are coyotes.
One thing I’ve appreciated about our escaped ewe is how our community has come together. People have gone out looking for her everyday. There have been search parties. And any spotting is immediately put on social media The owner of the ewe has been invited to future events and has invited us all out to his farm.
It’s a nice reminder that people are more than their social media presence. Because, if I’m being honest, our Facebook page is often filled with complaints about the service in restaurants, people who park badly, people who drive badly, and people who have the nerve to differ on political issues. And gun shots. People are always hearing gun shots, to the point that one person finally posted that if every noise was a gun shot, there would be nothing but bodies lining the highway that defines our neck of the woods.
But the sheep incident has brought out the softer side of our neighborhood. It allowed us to gather around something other than others’ faults. When the complaining starts again (and it will), I’ll set aside my irritation by remembering the good instead. Maybe I’ll even make Belle my screensaver as a reminder.
On Wednesday, I walked in the library to find that there was a computer problem in our building. Some computers were not working. Some were. However, none of them would send documents to our printers. This was a problem, because one week in, there were several assignments that were due to be turned in (in printed form).
But library folks noticed that one of our staff printers was on the network. Two of them wrote their email addresses on slips of papers and handed them to any student who needed to print. The students sent their documents to the staff members who then printed them. Students went to class with their assignments in hand.
Of course, this was not the only way the problem could have been solved. Library folks could have put ‘out of order’ signs on the printers and told students to inform their instructors that the network had gone wacky. And I’m sure that instructors would have been sympathetic.
But it was the first assignment and students were understandably nervous about not having their work in hand for class. So the library staff calmly analyzed the situation and decided on the course of action that would both keep the library working and students comfortable.
I have a saying that everyone in the library is surely tired of hearing: In cases of stress, it’s best if someone keeps calm. And I prefer if that someone is one of us.
So I was happy to find that not only had my staff kept calm during our first major bump in the road of the semester, but also that calm allowed them to find a reasonable solution.
It is easy to stress out when people are stressed out around you, especially when they are looking at you for help. But becoming anxious and stressed makes finding a solution harder. It’s better to take a deep breath and a minute to think through the options.
And thinking is always better than freaking out. (The previous sentence may or may not be based on personal experience.)