It was the approaching the darker side of dawn when I heard yelling from my neighbor's driveway.
"How did this happen?" a mother questioned sternly.
"I don’t know," the teen daughter replied.
"So you didn't run into a mailbox?" The mother gestured toward a car. "Then where'd this dent come from?"
"It was already there. I...I think someone else ran into it."
"Someone else? So you're saying you had nothing to do with it? That mailbox just happened to fall over on its own?"
Ah yes, excuses. I'm pretty sure we've all been on the receiving end of them. I can also guarantee that each of us has used them at some point in our lives. Things like, "I'm too tired," "I'm not feeling well," "I've been busy," "They did it first," and the list goes on and on. And while we’re at it, I'm sure you're more than aware that it doesn't take much to blur the line between excuses and those little white lies.
Working in emergency medicine I've heard my share of excuses. In fact I feel I've become quite adept at detecting them before a person can even finish a sentence. I've heard some doozies in my time, but one that immediately pops into my head took place several years ago.
"You won't believe what happened to me," the man in his sixties had said. "In fact I can't believe it myself."
I had refrained from rolling my eyes and instead encouraged him to continue. "Please, tell me."
"I was changing the fluorescent bulbs in my garage and because of the rain my ladder was slippery." the man gestured with his hands. "So I was being careful and stood them up each time I changed one out."
“On concrete?” I scratch my temple. “I didn't know you could stand those three foot long bulbs like that."
"I didn't either," the man confirmed. "But, you'd be surprised." He paused. "Anyway, I was climbing up the ladder with a new bulb when I slipped and...well you know. I landed right on one."
"Huh. Right through your clothes?"
"I know. Crazy isn't it?" the man stated. "I told you it was unbelievable."
I looked at the man, his wife then back to my chart. I didn't know what was worse for his future. The surgery to fix his glass filled, prolapsed rectum or the look of anger plastered across his wife's face. Needless to say, I wasn’t sticking around to find out.
Ask anyone who works in emergency medicine and their bound to have similar tales. Stories aside, whether working as a nurse or a paramedic, we’re guided by a specific set of rules known as protocols. And given the nature of the job these rules give us some flexibility because situations rarely fit neatly into a box. I feel to be a good nurse or paramedic you have to be willing to adapt to any given situation. Even though we have some flexibility, these protocols don’t grant us the freedom to do whatever we want. It takes an inherent sense of responsibility to properly take care of someone’s well being and there’s no room within this obligation for excuses. Maturity also adds to the foundation of this commitment as do knowledge, experience and a simple willingness to perform the job.
I get a kick out of newer nurses who have recently graduated college and are starting out their careers. At some point I’ll hear them say with an exacerbated sigh, “This adulating stuff sucks.”
I chuckle to myself because, well, at times it does. Not only does it require taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, but also to your significant other, your family, friends and in a larger sense the society around you.
It’s disheartening to see that so many in our society continue to embrace the ideal of self importance and with it an unwillingness to accept the responsibility of adulthood. I know I’m kind of generalizing but one thing I’ve noticed is that many are all too willing to “pass the buck.” That is complain about an issue, blame others for the cause of that issue and then expect others to fix it to their liking. In the end it reflects the desire to use excuses in order to take away any responsibility one may have.
One current example is those who continually find excuses to not wear a mask. Trust me I’m tired of thinking about it let alone writing about it. Another would be driving a car and the responsibility one has to the other drivers around them. Yet another would include the simple act of being kind. I’m sure you too can come up with some examples without me belaboring the topic.
In the end I believe to be a decent person, a “class act” individual or someone who’s “looked up to” not only takes responsibility, but someone who doesn’t use excuses to deflect from themselves, belittle others and thus prop themselves up. For those who chose to be a beacon of positivity, to be a leader whether big or small, to unite and to ultimately lift those around them don’t look for ways to complain and make excuses but rather find ways to make change for the benefit of all.
I still believe that the majority of us want to be in this together, let’s not be too close together while we’re all in it.