One of my most vivid memories of elementary school was in Miss Ito’s second grade class. We were working on these worksheets called “Math Boxes” and I hadn’t the faintest clue what to do with one of the last problems. Recess was fast approaching, so I slipped the assignment into my desk hoping Miss Ito wouldn’t find it. When I came back from recess, she had it in her hand and yelled at me in front of the whole class for not finishing the assignment. That was the first day I ever cried at school.
I recreated that day a little bit at work yesterday. Except, this time the scolding was less about something I had done and more about the other person.
I came into work feeling a little sick. We had four guests on the show that day. As usual, it was my job to greet them and bring them to our green room. As each guest arrives, the front desk receptionist calls my desk or cell phone to bring them into the studio. One of our guests arrived early when I wasn’t done setting up all the refreshments downstairs. I brought him into the room and we chitchatted as I finished the preparations. Meanwhile, I noticed a buzzing in my pocket. Worried it may be the front desk, I left the green room and headed up to the desk. Two of our guests were waiting. I called them past the front desk when something unusual happened. The receptionist stepped out of the glass cube he sits in and began yelling at me for not picking up my phone. The guests were shocked and I felt like an idiot. How were the guest’s supposed to trust me if the receptionist just told them I didn’t know how to use a cell phone? As we walked away from the desk, one of the guests told me not to let it ruin my day. But, I began to tear up. I dropped them off, rushed up the stairs, and cried for the first time at work.
My producers talked with me about what happened and told me everyone had faced the wrath of the receptionist before. It wasn’t about me. It was about him having a stressful day and voicing his frustration. One of my producers spoke to him individually about the incident. I received an email apology later that day.
During early childhood and infancy, we experience the world as revolving around us. Sometimes, it’s hard to grow up and leave behind that egocentrism. Instead of taking his comments as a personal attack of my character, I should have treated him like an angry caller on the show- let him feel heard but keep it cool. Not everything is about me.