The pettiness principle

I learned last week that one of the bosses where I work had just lost the man she had been with for years. A day or so after that, there was a sympathy card circulating for people to sign, and they were taking donations for Forgotten Felines, which was a cause the man who passed had supported.

I was going to sign the card right when I got there that morning, but someone else was signing it and people were standing around talking, so I decided to get it later. A few minutes later,  the person who was keeping the card at her desk, gave me a heads up.

It seemed there were a few people who felt that one shouldn’t sign the card if they don’t make a donation.  I just said, “wow.” My coworker said, “Yeah, tell me about it.”  I hadn’t thought too much about donating, but I probably would have done it. But now, it seemed like some were trying to force it, or was it about who gets credit for the money collected? Who knows?

My thought was to get my own card and give it to my boss and forgo the donation, or give independently online rather than giving it at work.  I was actually going to do that. You know, on principle. To stand up to the tyranny of the petty ones.  Then I saw the light.

Would that not make me as petty as they? I’ve been getting fed up with some people that work there, but perhaps this was not the time to revolt. Choose your battles, right? I gave a few bucks to the cause (that’s all I had with me), and I signed the card.

No big deal.  For me.  But my  boss was dealing with a real issue, the loss of a loved one. It’s amazing how you can get caught up in the peripheral issues and forget the important one.

It’s also very easy to get dragged down to the level of those who want to complain and play tit for tat. It’s not fair if they keep getting away with it, one might say. Someone has to do something, put them in their place. The problem is, you end up in the midst of a continual game of action and reaction, insult and retaliation, animosity and resentment.

I’d rather continue as I have been, staying out of it, not letting it bother me, and try to treat everyone with respect and amicability. It’s been working for me so far. I get along with nearly everyone, and if not, I don’t lose any sleep. It’s their problem.

I think it’s a good approach, as long as it doesn’t become a case of being afraid of conflict or trying to please everyone. If a person says something racist or personally insulting to another, for example, and you witness it, then that’s different.

The real loss here is that people spend so much time and energy complaining and making things difficult for each other, instead of working together, solving problems, sharing insights, and all that good stuff. Things that we can do to help each other and make the work day more pleasant, instead of creating and feeding an oppressive or gloomy atmosphere.

Don’t they know? (I haven’t said it for a while.) We’re all in this together.

I’ve said it before. There’s whole worlds to discover in the lives of the people around us. Go exploring!

3 thoughts on “The pettiness principle

  1. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I witnessed on Friday 1 co-worker gossiping to another that the grieving boss shouldn’t have :
    come in and worked
    shouldn’t be concerned about the will, if they weren’t married
    should just quit and live off the wealth (when I heard this I was thinking to myself what a conflicting opinion and why do you care so much about how this person is reacting to their grief)
    is all smiles, she’s obviously thinking about the money

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