Today, I was going through my cellphone phonebook trying to text a friend for our almost daily text chat about the Olympics. We are Olympic fanatics and love both the summer and winter games. As I was quickly typing her contact, another name came up and started populating the address and I almost sent a text to the wrong person.
I’ve sent texts, thankfully “nonincriminating” texts to the wrong person before. But, generally it’s someone n my close circle and a quick “oops” or “disregard” handles that. However, today the text was almost sent to a former Director I worked for; someone I don’t care for at all. I wasn’t so much concerned that I might text the wrong person but concerned that I still had this person in my contacts.
It’s a saying that you don’t burn bridges, but it goes both ways and this Director burned a bridge with me. When my children were very young, I had a hefty roundtrip work commute and was always conscious of leaving work by a certain time to ensure my 6pm daycare and school pickups. One wintry day, with a forecast of a snowstorm, I sat at my cubicle tracking the impending traffic nightmare. It was noon and I searched for my Director in his office and throughout our building. When I couldn’t find him, I sent him an e-mail and also called him and left him a voice message that I needed to leave early to avoid the potential of not picking my kids up on time from daycare.
Armed with my laptop, BlackBerry and a stack of papers, I trekked around the highway and just got on the road before the start of the storm. I as able to pick up my kids from daycare and school which, by this time, had announced an early closing. We came home and they played while I transformed my dining room into a remote office and finished my work day at home.
When I logged on to my computer and checked e-mail, I was surprised to see my Director’s response to my leave early e-mail. He said that he thought I was overreacting, being dramatic and an early leave was unnecessary. As I watched the beautiful snow fall, an ugly churning began in my stomach. I was so concerned about the repercussions of my early departure that I could barely focus.
When I finished my work day, I sat and watched the night descend and a beautiful white snow contrast the darkening sky. I also turned on the news full of stories of frantic parents still stuck on the highway at 8pm, having been in traffic for four or more hours trying to get to their children now well past the pickup time. Frantic and crying parents and frustrated and agitated commuters trying to make their way home; some running out of gas, batteries drained and abandoning their cars on highways and major thoroughfares. It quelled a bit of my anxiety as I was grateful to have avoided the horrendous commute and thought of not being able to get to my children.
When I returned to work, I never expected, nor did I get an apology or follow up discussion from my Director. Every time a snow day came, I was more apprehensive about asking to telecommute or leave early, but always chose the option that would allow me to be both productive and ensure the safety of my children (because the two are not mutually exclusive, especially in our technologically advanced society).
So, this Director burned a bridge with me. His lack of sensitivity to begin with and failure to be accountable for his error in response and judgement were indications that this relationship should never outlast the time I worked for him and/or this company. I always did my job well and was professional. I had saved my director’s number in my personal phone for instances such as the snow day, sick days and emergencies. I have long since left that company, but for some reason let the busyness of life prevent me from deleting someone who needed to be deleted.
As always, there are lots of lessons.
- Follow your gut: I knew it was risky to stay at work any longer than I did and I was right to leave ahead of the storm
- Plan and be strategic about how you spend your time. You can’t always dictate when and where you will work, but I had a terrible commute for years and it negatively impacted my quality of life. It was even more important for me to be judicious with how I spent my time outside of work.
- The majority of my time spent, then and now, out of work is with family. Family first. Quality time is so important and enriching.
- Update your contact list with quality professional contacts. It’s important to maintain professional contacts and reciprocity, respect and consideration are important as well. My Director had no regard for my situation so it’s unlikely that I’d rely on him for anything in the future and there’s no need to keep in touch with him.
- We don’t need to keep reminders and souvenirs of negative people, energy and situations. It’s great to learn from them and move on. There’s no reason for someone who’s shown little regard for you to take up space in your life; mental space, physical space and space in your contacts. Some people just don’t’ deserve your time. Free up that space.
- Manage your contacts. There might be someone in there who needs to hear from you, but you’ve overlooked them because your contacts are full of extras. Keep in touch with the ones who matter; keep the good ones close.
I just deleted my former Director’s number, e-mail and all contact information. I see that there are some others in my contacts who no longer deserve my time. Tonight, while I’m watching the Olympics, I’ll be deleting some folks and that’s okay because the ones who will remain are solid gold, people I’m honored to have a connection with.
Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor. Resilience Coach and Reconstructionist™ chronicling life after a breast cancer diagnosis. Sharing my musings on the life lessons I’ve learned from the wild ride of the highs, lows, ordinary and extraordinary in every day. Living my manifesto, Soul of a Survivor, and always strivi ng to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.