Your Career and You: “On Pigeons and Statues”


I had an epiphany a few days ago as I sat patiently (although you wouldn’t know it from the multiple snarky tweets I sent while waiting) as the folks at a local newly-opened restaurant tried to cope with a hungry lunch crowd.

“Chaos” is the only way I could describe the scene.

The front end of the restaurant boasted easily a half-dozen empty tables while the hostess “looked busy” but wasn’t accomplishing a whole heck of a lot.

The frazzled waitstaff had gotten their mantra down to a sincerely-mouthed “I’m sooo sorry for the delay” as patron after patron asked about an order.

The two guys at the table next to me gave up. Forty-five minute lunchbreak wait for a sandwich.

I decided to stick it out…slow day on the farm, so I had some time to kill…and Twitter was keeping me company!

Hamburger…35 minutes. Drink (“sweet tea”…hey, I’m a Southerner; I’m allowed to slip once in a while!) undrinkable. Who in heaven’s name puts nectar in tea?!?

So that’s the backdrop.

The young lady taking my order was the epitome’ of “cool-under-pressure.” Patient, empathetic…and exhausted…it was 1:30 p.m., and she’d been on duty since a little after 5 a.m.

Having done time myself after college working in my Dad’s soda shop back home, I understood how she felt…and appreciated her efforts to soothe ruffled feathers.

Through quick mini-chats each time she came by my table, I learned that this was an unusual day…apparently other days (the restaurant had been open just four days) had been less frantic.

And that’s what inspired this week’s thoughts…sometimes you’re totally in control of the situation and life is good.

Sometimes, as I often say in my classes at both Curry College, where I head up the Communication Department’s undergraduate Public Relations Concentrationand teach most PR courses, and Regis College, where I teach in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area, you have no choice but to sit back and watch the train wreck happen.

Or…to use one of my absolute favorite sayings: “Sometimes you’re the pigeon; sometimes you’re the statue.”

Job-hunting is a good example.

Career searches, while they should be somewhat controlled, occasionally jump off the track and you find yourself scrambling to straighten the mess out.

A friend texted me at the end of last week to say she had hurt her back moving into a new apartment and had had to call and re-schedule a job interview. She was in a bit of a tizzy because this is her first real job hunt, and she was afraid things were going to spiral out of control.

I assured her that her excuse was entirely legitimate and…more important…if the organization with which she had scheduled the interview was unsympathetic…she didn’t want to work there anyway.

We like to feel like we’re in charge of our lives. And, for the most part, we are.

But occasionally things happen. And there’s not a blasted thing we can do about it except soldier on and do our best.

Back to my young, anonymous friend at the new restaurant. She’s heading off to UMass-Amherst in September to study English, and I hope her professors recognize early on that this young lady is a budding young professional.

Cool under pressure. Poised under fire. Pleasant and upbeat while Rome burns. I would hire her in a microsecond.

And, to close this conversation…statues stand all regal and self-important…and immobile, oblivious to all that is going on around them. Pigeons (forgive me pigeon-lovers) are annoying birds that poop on people, places and things…including the regal, self-important statues.

Professionals understand that not everything is going to go the way they want, and they learn over time how to respond to unexpected glitches.

It’s called “experience.”

“There comes a time in every man’s life and I’ve had many of them.”
– Charles Dillon (”Casey”) Stengel
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About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 10 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Communication, Curry College, Customer Service, job hunting, job search, public relations, Regis College, Undergraduate Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

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