Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best Person in the World

In my search for jobs, I keep thinking about past jobs I've had. One memory keeps coming back to me over and over. I can't remember exactly where I was working or any other specifics other than this. A cranky, impatient female supervisor deftly showed me how to use a fairly complicated machine essential to my work. I used all of my brain power to memorize exactly what she was doing and in what order so that I wouldn't have to ask questions because she was exuding this "you're an idiot and this task is super easy and any idiot would be able to understand how to do it intuitively but I have to waste my valuable time showing you how because you're an idiot. also, you're an idiot" vibe and I didn't want to give her any more reason to think I was an idiot. After my training was complete I began doing my work as well and as efficiently as I possibly could. Ultimately, I had to use the machine. I ran through everything she had told me to do over and over. "You can do this. You can do this."
But the machine wasn't on. I knew what I needed to do and I knew that the machine wasn't broken or anything, just not on. I realized, though, that in her comprehensive rundown of my duties, she'd neglected to show me how to turn the thing on. Well, I figured I was a smart girl, I could figure something obvious like that out. Maybe not. 20 minutes later, after agonizing over not wanting to show weakness or stupidity, and not being able to figure it out, I stumble over to my supervisor's desk and mumble out some question about how to turn the thing on. My memory ends at that point but I do have a vague sense that she wasn't pleased. or patient with me.

This memory is more poignant for me right now since I'm a baby lawyer (well, not really a lawyer at all since I haven't passed the bar yet so I'm not licensed) and I really don't know how to do anything, and any job I ultimately get is going to have a steep learning curve. I've overcome my timidity about asking questions though--even if the person thinks I'm stupid because a) if they're training me, they're the ones who are bad at their job if a simple question that makes me a better employee irks them, and b) even if it's a stupid question, the more stupid option is not asking it and having no clue what's going on.

It's still uncomfortable, though, and thus, I'd like to introduce the best person in the world. His name is Ryan Parker and I've never met him. When we first moved into our house, I knew literally nothing about home repair and I felt like I was back at the office but I didn't want to ask a real, live person some of my basic questions because I really don't like being treated like a moron. One of our earliest pressing issues moving in was a leak. We knew where it was and what to do about it. We needed to fill it in with caulk. So we got the suitable caulk. We borrowed a caulk gun. We were home-repair super heroes. Except for the small matter that we had no idea how to use a caulk gun. (and in every case where I talked about "we" above, I meant just me because I was pretending to be the home repair expert in the family and I had known enough to get us this far and Brando was at work.)

Maybe I'm stupid, but a caulk gun is not that intuitive to use. You try to pull back the weird thingy that HAS to pull back for you to slip the caulk in and you can't. You cut off the top of the caulk canister and the caulk still won't come out. There's a little trigger thing on the gun that seems like it should pull out but it only pushes in and it still doesn't make sense how to do the thing. And caulking seems like it should be so easy!

In tears, I googled it. There were a lot of things about air pressure caulk guns and how to smooth out caulk. Was I an idiot for not intuitively knowing how to do this?! Finally, I found Ryan Parker and he saved me:

I would marry him if I weren't already married to the better best person in the world.

There's no judgment. His introduction is not, "Hi, I'm Ryan Parker here with remedial moron home repairs -101 and this is how you should use a caulk gun even though you're probably so stupid that even this kind of gun is a fatal weapon in your incompetent hands." He just tells you how to use it and moves on.
Ryan Parker saved my life that fateful day last year. And by "saved my life" I mean made me seem like a super-genious, if only to myself. And every mistake I've made on my small-scale but still overly ambitious home repair projects, I still think of Ryan, not berating me for my shortcomings, but patiently and benevolently waiting for me to come back when I'm ready to learn how a hammer works.