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Valued Social Butterfly
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GET A GRIP

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Get a Grip

 

I once volunteered to edit a five-year self-study accreditation renewal project for my college. Talk about stress! First of all, few of the committee members bothered to meet timetables for their research. And the faculty and staff who did manage to write something down violated scores of grammatical rules and opted for indecipherable officialese. I tidied up the grammar and eliminated the gobbledygook, but the chairperson overruled many of my corrections because the language in the self-study had to conform to state guidelines for report writing, conventions that I had to adhere to, even though as an English college composition instructor, I despised them. I bristled, yet I grudgingly obeyed.

 

Within a week of the final deadline, I had revised all of the reports that had insufficient data. However, one major gap remained, and the only person who could help me was one of the school counselors who had enthusiastically worked with me throughout the project. She agreed to see me right after I taught my last morning class. When I got to her office, she was on the phone. I didn't know whom she was talking to, nor did I care. As the conversation droned on for over fifteen minutes, I became increasingly restless and annoyed. The information that I needed from her was essential in wrapping up the self-study. So I did something wildly out of character. I reached over the counselor's shoulder and pressed down on the phone's buzzer, ending that **bleep** call.

 

I wanted her attention, and boy did I get it. She was horrified and speechless. She just stared at me, her face became flushed, and she finally said, "I don't believe you just did that." I too couldn't believe that I had acted that rashly and rudely. As I began to explain my position, she asked me to leave and come back in a couple of hours. By then, she would have my data; but I no longer would have her respect. Humbled and humiliated, I nevertheless had the presence of mind to meet the deadline. 

 

I eventually reconciled with the counselor. Sometimes, I wonder who had phoned her that day or if the call was urgent, but I have been discreet enough not to ask her. That question was—and still is—taboo. I never again lost my temper at the college; and at home, my outbursts are much less frequent and intense. While the self-study was an ordeal, it enabled me to maintain more self-control when I become frustrated, and that is an accomplishment that I am thankful for.

 

 

schlomo
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