Saturday, August 04, 2012

Making Mistakes

I think it might be worse to watch somebody else make a mistake at work than to botch it myself.

Almost half of our tellers are new in June or July.  Two were on their own for the first time this week.  The person I was working with today is such a sweetie.  It was really busy.  And, as luck would have it, she ended up with her drawer being off.  She hadn't made a big error, but it was enough to trouble her.  I wanted so much to hug her and assure her.  I wanted to make it all better for her.  I remember those mistakes happening all-too-frequently when I was new.  I wished that things had gone differently during the morning; I wondered if there was something I could have done to be more helpful to her.  I feel awful that she was off, and it wasn't even my mistake.

When I was new, they kept telling me, "Everybody makes mistakes."  That didn't make it any better at the time.  But now that I've been there for a while, and I can see what the new girl is going through,  it's true: everybody does make mistakes when they're learning!

When I was new, they kept assuring me that I would learn from my mistakes.  I didn't like that.  I knew it was true.  But I hated it.  In fact, I still remember my second-grade teacher giving us a homework assignment to come up with a list of homonyms.  I of course, in overdrive, came up with a list of not 10 or 20, but nearly 100.  My list included "our" and "are" as homonyms.  It was wrong!  [gasp]  [By the way, Teacher didn't listen to how folks in that section of Illinois pronounced "are" and "our."]  I still remember being WRONG about that.  Of course, Mr Choir Director appreciates that because I make sure to sing "our" with the correct pronunciation.  And sometimes I edit his writing, correcting the same mistake (because he was raised amongst people with the same accent).  All because of my mortification that my second-grade teacher caught me being WRONG.

During my senior year when I was taking a programming class, my computer program didn't run as it was supposed to.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong.   I went to the prof.  He asked me what I'd done to debug the program.  "What?  What do you mean, 'debug the program'?"  He asked me what I'd done before, when my programs hadn't run properly.  I was stunned.  They'd never not-run before.  I was nearing the end of my computer-science major, and I had never debugged a program.  I'd always gotten it right from the get-go.  That's not actually a good way to learn to solve problems, eh?

I am still stunned by the parable of the lost sheep.  For decades I had wondered about how there is "more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance."   God is not like me.  I would much rather have my kids obey me than to screw up and break things and be sassy and then ask for forgiveness.  I don't understand this verse: how can God delight in repentance more than He delights in so much obedience that there's no need for repentance?!  I mean, He certainly wants us to obey and do what is right!  But this verse -- there is more joy in heaven.... 

I don't like mistakes.
I like to be right.
I like to do things the right way so that there's no need to fix it.
I want so desperately to comfort those who are grieving
over their inability to do the job perfectly.
I know we learn from our mistakes.

I still don't like mistakes.

Maybe I'll get it straightened out in my mind before I die.

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