If the shoe fits

IMG_5753After my Crunch time post last week, a friend told me he couldn’t wait to read the follow-up. I never expected to write one, but dang it, he was right.

My dog ate my Mophie.

Just days after I called out my kid for not taking responsibility, today it became my turn. My mouthy puppy gnawed on my phone’s external battery pack, and to add insult to injury, he did it while sitting beside me. I assumed he had his bone–belatedly I realized he didn’t.

So was it the dog’s fault? Nope. It was all mine.

I should have been watching. I shouldn’t have assumed. I should take better care of my stuff. The blame lies on my shoulders.


There’s another lesson in this.

Stuff happens, and sometimes it happens fast. Sometimes it even happens right under our noses.

So while I still expect my kid to take responsibility for leaving his phone unattended–just like I’m owning up to letting my dog chew on my Mophie–I’m going to cut him some slack. He’s human; we all are.

And yeah, while you’re smirking and thinking that it always looks different when it happens to me, sometimes that’s the only way I learn the lesson.

Cut me some slack.

(Well, JD, you got your wish. Now stop laughing.)

Crunch time

IMG_5559Two perfect puncture marks, accented by a spiderweb of cracks, adorn the screen of my son’s new, only-had-it-since-Christmas, please-Mom-I-really-need-it smartphone. It actually doesn’t look that bad; I’ve seen people using phones that look as if they’ve been on the receiving end of a sledgehammer with nary a hiccup of service. Even so, those two marks that perfectly match our dog’s dentition are enough to ensure that the screen won’t respond at all.

Of course, my boyo is mad. His best buddy in the world took a bite out of his social livelihood. What a jerk, right?

I’m not so sure. After all, Wallace is a puppy. Chewing has been etched into his DNA since before time began. At seven months old with new molars erupting, the urge is stronger than ever. He might know he’s not supposed to, but that beautiful, shiny toy was just lying there in plain view on the couch like an open invitation. And the fact that it smelled like his favorite human-brother must have sealed the deal.

Wait. It was lying on the couch unattended? In an environment where we have to put shoes on high shelves to avoid Wallace’s mouthy attention? Where boyo insists on keeping his bedroom door shut so his favorite puppy can’t wander in unattended and chew stuff up?

Hmm. Who should have known better here? Whose fault was it really? The dog’s, for doing what he has been genetically programmed to do? Or the kid’s, for failing to take Wallace’s into account puppydom and properly safeguard his possessions?

Boyo didn’t like that when he called to plaintively report the transgression, my first question centered on why he had left his phone unattended–and the second on why he had left the dog unattended. I would have reminded him of Aesop’s fable about the snake (You knew what I was when you picked me up, so why did you do it?), but he wouldn’t have listened.

He wanted to kennel Wallace for the rest of the night, shame him on the internet, and refuse to talk to him for weeks. Sorry, bud, but it doesn’t work that way. Punish him in the moment to deter future bad behavior, but the responsibility rests on you. It’s your job to take care of your stuff. YOU knew better.

He doesn’t want to hear that. He wants to whine and point fingers and lash out. He’s mad, but deep down, he’s really mad at himself, and here’s the reason, whether it involves a puppy or anything else:

Placing blame is easy; shouldering it isn’t.

We could all use a reminder of that from time to time.

When you point your finger ’cause your plan fell through, you’ve got three more fingers pointing back at you. –from Solid Rock, by Dire Straits


I know where you sit

exterior-south-side-010913My company is building a beautiful new headquarters, and I’m lucky enough to play a significant role in it. I have the pleasure–and it really is a pleasure–of overseeing the furniture, fabrics, fixtures, and finishes for all things interior. Over the past several months, I’ve learned more about office systems, upholstery, paint, veneer, laminate, and seat pans than I even knew existed. And I’ve had fun doing it.

Every now and then, I’ll stop dead in my tracks. I’m responsible for the interior of this impressive new building. Me. Moi. Yours truly. The realization always takes me by surprise, and it humbles me. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Of course, I’m working with an interior designer, as well as some very capable (and talented) vendors. I’m not flying solo here. Nonetheless, one principle has tempered every decision I’ve made. When I make  a choice at odds with the suggestion of our interior designer, I tell her this:

No one will remember your name when this is all over, but EVERYONE will know where I sit.

Anyone who fosters a gripe about the comfort and aesthetics of the new building’s interior will quickly and easily find his way to my office. My involvement in this process has been no secret, nor should it be. Because of that, I constantly have to balance what suits my own taste with what is appropriate for the company, what best serves the most people, what makes the most financial sense, what will stand the test of time, and what will be most widely accepted. I can’t simply disappear when the project is complete; I will carry the responsibility for my decisions for a long time.

As this project draws to a close in the next few months, I realize that this lesson is far more important than anything I’ve learned about paint or furniture. No matter what I do, I can’t (or shouldn’t) make decisions in a vacuum. Someone will always know where I sit.

That changes everything.