29 Sep TAKING RESPONSIBILITY WHEN YOU SCREW UP
Moss Jackson, PhD
You Deserve To Live an Extraordinarily Long Life of Success, Accomplishment and Satisfaction!
When I was about eight years old our family moved from Brooklyn, NY to Richfield, NJ. Although it was hot and congested, I loved my Brooklyn neighborhood. We lived in a fifth floor walk-up apartment building which pulsated with a mixed aroma of chicken soup and garlic, the magical aromatic chemistry of Jewish and Italian cooking.
In our one block neighborhood, our mothers and aunts watched us closely. Whenever any one of the kids strayed, our parents were quick to know what happened. No one was immune. We were all held responsible for our actions; that was the collective ethic of the community. No one to blame and no excuses. If someone notified my mother of my misbehavior, I was punished. No more needed to be said.
Then we moved to Ridgefield. I was not happy. I did not recognize the neighborhood, it was too green and woody. While in Brooklyn, we played stickball with a broom handle and rubber ball on the busy street. In Ridgefield, kids played baseball on a baseball field. In Ridgefield, there was no smell of chicken soup and garlic. It was very Protestant, and indeed a very different culture.
I was desperate to fit in. Some of my new classmate delivered the daily newspaper on their bikes, and they looked very cool! I thought this would be my ticket to acceptance, just deliver some papers and I would be one of the guys.
The only problem was that I did not have a bike. “So what?” I thought, I would claim my newspaper bag, collect my batch of papers and make my rounds. Well, the thought was bigger than my capacity to execute it. I lasted only three days! Finally, on the third day, I collapsed, totally exhausted, dirty and, surprisingly, demoralized. I had failed to persevere. While the other newspaper team members strode through their respective tours on their bikes and finished up before dusk, I trudged through my itinerary, bag hanging down from my shoulder and working way into the evening.
So on the fourth day, I quit! I just picked up my papers, walked a block away and threw them all in the trash, all 45 papers. I came home earlier than usual, answered my mom when she asked how everything went that day and I enjoyed a long, wonder evening of TV. The same occurred the next day. I dumped the papers and came home. That second evening, though, did not turn out to be so idyllic.
The newspaper route manager knocked on the door just as “The Lone Ranger” came riding onto the screen. A voice yelled “Hi, ho Silver,” on the TV, and my heart sank as my dad and the manager sat next to me on the couch. My father told me that many of my customers had called the manager to complain that they did not get their daily newspapers for the last two days. My manager was calm and simply asked me what happened. I told him the truth. I didn’t have a bike and it was unfair that I had to walk my route while the other boys could ride bikes. I just felt it was unfair and that it was my father’s fault for not buying me a bike. They tried to persuade me that I did not behave responsibly, but I simply buried my head in the pillow and stopped listening. Eventually, they both stood up, the manager said I could not come back to work and my father paid him for the destroyed papers. Then they both walked silently away.
I do not remember the rest of the evening or how the Lone Ranger story ended. I just felt sorry for myself, angry over the injustice of having to walk my route and hating Ridgefield!
Looking back at that incident, I now understand that I did not take any responsibility for my behavior. I had blamed my father for my lack of a bike and Ridgefield for my failure. Back then, I was convinced I was a Victim of circumstances. But I was also nine.
And then there is Donald Trump! Who is not nine. Just like my paper deliveries, when I screwed up and blamed everyone else except myself, Trump experienced substantial failure during his first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton and took no responsibility for his terrible and immature performance. He blamed the microphone not working properly, the unfair questions, the moderator, Hilary Clinton and I think even Rosie O’Donnell! All while over eighty million viewers watched on TV.
I do not excuse in any way my lack of responsibility as an errant nine-year-old newspaper delivery boy. I screwed up and handled the situation badly. Trump screwed up and handled it badly too. The only difference was that I was a nine year old kid not yet even through puberty, who has since learned how to take responsibility for my actions and inactions. Trump is a seventy year old businessman! I thought moving through puberty was a basic requirement for a Presidential candidate! Maybe the thing we had in common is that we were both operating at the same developmental level, that of a 9-year-old child!
The consequence of my actions was that I was dismissed as a paper boy. Perhaps the same consequences should be dispensed for a Trump. He should be dismissed as a serious candidate for the presidential role. In my opinion, any grown man who cannot accept responsibility for a screwed up TV performance will do likewise when the stakes get even higher.
Donald, “You’re Fired!”