i HATE that particular popular phrase.
it is usually said in such a way that the person
truly doesn’t think it’s all that bad at all.
have you ever noticed?
“my bad !”
she said. as she dug around in her purse to find her insurance card.
she had just run into the back of my car.
i knew she was going to hit me.
i was stopped because traffic had suddenly stopped even though the light
i’d been watching her in my rear view mirror.
she was doing everything but paying attention to her driving.
cell phone to her ear. honking at a friend and waving.
i braced for the bender and it came. i had nowhere to go to escape it.
no huge amount of damage.
but she didn’t even apologize. she simply said airily “my bad!”
like a toddler that thought she was adorable and could get away with
i got back into my car and thought about a day in my life that
it was very much “MY BAD.”
and i had felt just how bad it really was. scary bad old bean!
alas and alack and as it were!
this fender~bender above happened a few years ago.
and ‘my bad’ happened even MORE many many years ago than that!
it was one of the first jobs i had after bob had died.
i worked for the huge great university of oklahoma
i was secretary to the assistant to the dean of libraries.
the dean was named sul lee. dean of the main bizzell library and all 8 branches.
i was also secretary to two other directors.
i was in charge of handling all personnel forms.
which included contacting applicants with the results of their bid for employment.
the workload as you can imagine was horrendous.
WAY too much on the plate of a person just back in the work force
after the premature death of a beloved young husband.
to say i was “rusty” was an understatement!
but i managed to keep my head above water.
the voice of jim reed (my late father) and his own work ethic
that had been drilled into me throughout my childhood was ever present.
it allowed for no slouching in any way on the job . . . even if they piled it on.
this is the beautiful gothic style bizzell library on the campus of the university of oklahoma.
one morning i took a phone call.
it was a young woman not much younger than myself actually . . .
who’d applied for a position in one of the 8 library branches on campus.
i found her application. it was in the stack of letters i was preparing . . .
” . . . sorry but we cannot hire you at this time, thank you for your application . . . etc. . . “
~ the official letter sent to applicants not hired ~
i told her that she would be receiving a formal correspondence in the mail
but that i could tell her she was not chosen.
she started to cry. asking WHY? WHY NOT?
sap that i am. was. am.
i immediately felt so sorry for her.
i told her that it had gone to a young guy because it required the lifting of
REALLY heavy boxes all day and they probably thought she couldn’t handle that.
! ! ! DANGER DANGER DANGER ! ! !
in two hours time.
i was called forth to see dean lee in his office.
he was a tall handsome man with usually a gentle smile.
steel grey in his black hair and a friendly~to~me always demeanor.
well. not today.
THIS is what his room might as well have looked like.
actually it looked quite like this.
a huge impressive desk.
though thick carpet in a dark green.
even the flag as i recall.
“sit down tammy.”
“did you receive a call from ~ ~ ~ ~ this morning?”
“i want you to tell me EXACTLY word for word what you told her.”
it hadn’t been that long ago.
my memory was totally sharp then.
nowadays if you asked me to do that i might be hardput to do it!
although here i am remembering to the letter ~ everything that happened that day.
it was burned into my consciousness FOREVER!
he proceeded to tell me that because of what i’d told her . . .
the university was now being sued for millions of dollars in
a ‘discrimination suit.’
i was to go to a meeting in the afternoon with him
to address the lawyers hired by the girl’s father
as well as the director of the affirmative action office.
dear GOD ! ! !
the university is being sued because of me?
what have i done?
what has my mouth done?
is my deodorant still working?
i walked into the library conference room with dean lee himself.
he has since retired. just last year i believe.
he was i think perhaps 6’2″. he had beautiful posture.
and always a reserved countenance.
he had always been so kind and patient with me.
he said very little when we entered the room.
across the big dark table sat the scowling and intimidating men
in dark suits.
the affirmative action director sat at the head of the table as mediator.
i was the only woman in the room.
i felt like i was 6 years old.
it was all i could do to keep from crying like that 6 year old that i was!
the affirmative action director began the hearing.
that’s what it was called.
a HEARING! not a meeting. but a hearing.
i was on trial.
at the very least i would lose my job.
how do they punish you when you cost the university millions of dollars?
will they put me in jail?
all of this was going through my head.
the lawyers began to give their deposition. or whatever they call it.
they had briefcases full of papers.
it was my turn to speak.
i was not asked to stand.
thank heaven. because i’m not sure my legs would have held me.
that’s how frightened i was.
thoreau has never failed me.
and as it turned out . . .
he didn’t fail me even then.
if ever there was i time i needed to be invincible . . . it was NOW!
when it was my turn to speak i began.
i looked at dean lee. the only ‘ friend ‘ i had in the room.
he was calm. our eyes met and for a moment i almost broke down.
i had created something very bad here. the full weight of it was upon me old bean.
and then he simply silently nodded his head. then he smiled.
it gave me courage.
i told them what i’d said and that it had simply come from my heart.
i wanted to stop her hurt somehow.
and that i was truly sorry if i said anything wrong. i didn’t mean to.
what else was there to say?
it was simply the truth.
thank heaven this time i had known when to SHUT UP! i said nothing else.
because . . .
you could argue all day about the ramifications of a girl hoisting 100 pound boxes
around like a guy. could she? couldn’t she?
maybe that wasn’t even the reason she didn’t get hired.
maybe they just didn’t like her attitude.
i picked a logical reason that i thought would make her feel better about it all.
and one that could easily be correct.
the point is . . . you shouldn’t GUESS. you should know.
and you should apparently know enough to stay silent about what you don’t know!
a lesson learned.
just two small parts of this massive library.
this beloved grand old library . . .
filled with thoughts and history and wisdom . . .
still stands. as beautiful as ever.
despite time. and flimsy lawsuits and silly young girls
immature in their own way.
and the case . . . which never should have even been a case . . .
and here . . .
upon the day of his retirement about 30 years later . . .
the esteemed dean sul lee.
til soon old bean.