What Good Can Come From This?

January 10th, 2014

When I was 22 I worked at a record store in a small town in Central Pennsylvania. It was mom and pop shop run by a husband-wife team. There were six employees total. I loved that job.

My boyfriend at the time was a chef. He worked at the best five-star restaurant in town. This place was outstanding. He worked directly alongside the head chef and owner. He was second in command, aka the sous-chef. He was important.

One night after work, he came home and told me about a large table that had come in and spent close to a thousand dollars. They had the meal of their lives. One of the members of that party happened to be a guy I worked with at the record shop. Knowing I was dating the sous-chef, he had asked the waiter if he might say hello. My boyfriend, as well as the owner, came out to thank them for their business and chat for a bit. Everyone was happy.

After the table left for the night, and it came time to clean up, a teenage bus girl expressed worry about cleaning up after this particular table because she “might get AIDS”. My boyfriend and I found this hysterically stupid as did everybody else working at the time. They made fun of her, told her to shut up and clean up. It was absurd, plain and simple.

The following day, my coworker told me all about the amazing meal they had had the night before. We discussed the food, the ambiance, the staff, the owner and my boyfriend. It was a casual conversation just like every other conversation I’d had with him. We were friends so I figured I could share with him the story about the idiotic bus girl. At the time, I figured he’d find it as stupid as I had. I assumed we’d discuss the bigotry people still held toward gay men and how much needed to change. I figured he’d laugh, call her ignorant and we’d be done with it. But the moment the words came out of my mouth, I knew I’d made a horrible mistake. He was visibly upset. I could tell immediately my actions had just set into motion a massive snowball of terrible reactions. I was sick to my stomach.

Well, calls were made and many people got into a lot of trouble including my boyfriend. My boyfriend was reprimanded for not coming to the owner and letting him know that night. He was scolded for telling me—or anyone. This was really, really bad for business. My boyfriend was crushed, and totally freaking out. I had created such a huge mess.

The guy I worked with wanted the girl fired. He was livid that he’d spent so much of his money at an establishment that willingly employs such a homophobic, ignorant person. He went on to suggest that there were probably others working there who held the same ignorant beliefs. He vowed never to eat there again. He would be sharing the story with all of his friends.

I felt terrible. I had been the catalyst for such negativity. Even now, almost 20 years later, the situation makes me cringe. If only I had known better. What had I been thinking?

At the time, and I mean this, I thought things would never be the same again. Being young, and living within the moment as much as we’re capable of throughout our lives, has a way of making one feel that the worst scenarios will last forever. Being young has a way of making you think nothing will ever be the same again, that you might never recover from any given awful event.  And these horrible situations happen repeatedly until you (hopefully) learn your lesson, once and for all, and realize what consequences are. You start to figure out what is right and wrong and what should be avoided. Before opening your mouth, or sending that email, you ask yourself, “What good can come from this?” And after mentally exhausting all possible outcomes only then do you proceed.

Of course things did eventually settle down. The girl was forced to apologize in writing and later let go. The guy I worked with was offered a free meal and a heartfelt apology. My boyfriend kept his job but it was hard for a while and it took a while for the owner to trust him again. And I was seen as a shit-starter, a gossip queen. I was no longer treated as I once was, respected by those who ran the place. And that felt pretty awful.

I had made a terrible decision and suffered the consequences. That was my punishment. And the next time, hopefully, I would choose a different direction.

I think this is what it means to grow up. This is all part of the humility that comes with age and experience. You make mistakes in your teens and twenties and suffer through those consequences (sometimes repeatedly) in order to avoid adult consequences in the future. Because adult consequences? They are often a whole lot bigger and take a great deal more work and heartache to recover from. And adult consequences often include other people, individuals who rely on us for survival. Adult consequences actually do sometimes last forever.

Adult consequences, due to my own piss-poor actions, are consequences I try very, very hard to avoid.

Because I try so hard to avoid adult consequences, I am continually amazed at those my age and older who continue to make such thoughtless decisions, particularly those in the public eye or those in positions of power. Dennis Rodman is chumming it up with one of the most horrific people on planet Earth, which is fine. He’s a grown man; he can hang out with whomever he chooses. But then he gets in front of a camera and spews some drunken nonsense for the whole world to watch, potentially endangering a man currently imprisoned in North Korea.

Grownup consequences, in this case, could cost someone their life.

On Twitter, not a week goes by where we don’t witness someone backpedalling after tweeting something completely ignorant. The whole world watched a PR Executive tweet a racist joke and then lose her job all in under 24 hours.

Grownup consequences took her job and basically wrote her off as a potential hire elsewhere. Who’s going to hire a PR Executive who made such a terrible PR move?

There was the MSNBC anchor who went on and on about Romney’s mixed-race grandchild; the guy from Duck Dynasty who was given a platform to spew his nonsense and I still don’t quite understand why or how he has a TV show of his own. There was the tech editor who tweeted some bigoted nonsense about women in tech, he was promptly fired for his audacity, rightly so. There are just so many of them, so many WTF moments, they all start to blur together.

And now there’s the whole Governor Christie, GW Bridge fiasco. I don’t want to go on and on about what happened. At this point, you’re probably well aware of every angle and all the absurdity involved. But I will say this: I listened to his speech yesterday and I believe him. I don’t think he knew his staffers were up to such stupid acts. You may call me gullible, but I do believe him. I’m floored, however, that these grown ass adults made such stupid mistakes. What were they thinking? Why put that shit in writing? Do they not understand how email works? That nothing is private?

How is it they didn’t scrutinize their every move, ESPECIALLY since they are public officials? And what type of environment did Governor Christie cultivate letting them feel this would be OK?

What a mess.

I’m truly baffled by the whole ordeal. And now we’re learning there might be legal ramifications. We are discovering that at least one woman may have died due to the lane closures because emergency personal weren’t able to get to her in time.

Grownup consequences, Mr. Wildstein and Ms. Kelly. They are a bitch.

We all make mistakes. I will continue to make them and I have a ton of regrets and they pile on each and every day of my life. I carry mine like a pack mule. And we all deserve second chances–even thirds, fourths and fifths. But holy HELL, people, all it takes sometimes to avoid a massive FAIL is to ask yourself that one simple question: “What good can come from this?”

Because chances are the answer is gonna be “Not a whole hell of a lot.” So choose wisely because adult consequences suck.

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13 Comments on “What Good Can Come From This?”

  1. StFarmer said at 1:05 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Michele,

    Well stated.

  2. Michele Hermanson said at 1:36 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Your story is good and certainly exemplifies your point of consequences…but I don’t for one moment believe Governor Christie wasn’t aware of what was going on. Is it truly plausible that this entire plan was hatched without his knowledge and that all those extremely close and old friends he’s put into government jobs did this without the knowledge of their boss and friend? Why would the staff be motivated to reap havoc on a city as political retribution on their own? Is that really logical? Why would they risk their jobs and the job of their friend, the Governor, to do this? It isn’t reasonable. He knew, he directed it, and he insulated himself and they’re all taking the bullet for him…but ultimately I believe the truth will come out. That’s my take.

  3. Becca said at 1:57 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Beautiful post, Michele.

  4. mihow said at 2:15 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Michele: I think he may have cultivated an environment for such actions, but I don’t think he orchestrated it. I think he may have made some off-the-record comment at some point and they ran with it later, but the choice was theirs to make.

    The thing is, if he did orchestrate it, there is NO reason why both parties wouldn’t state as much right now. They have nothing to lose because from what I can tell, they already lost it all basically. They’re screwed either way, so why not save their own face and tell the truth?

    Unless he’s got a hit out on them, a threat of some sort (not at all likely), OR he’s paying them off (possible, I suppose) I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t admit it was ALL him if it is indeed him.

    So, yeah. I still don’t think he knew. Again: call me gullible, but I’m going to take him at his word until someone steps up and says otherwise.

    But the environment was his and for that he is responsible. This type of crap doesn’t take place unless it can.

    ::shrugs::

  5. StFarmer said at 2:34 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    I don’t think he knew…. and I’m a Democrat.

  6. Michele Hermanson said at 2:39 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    It is possible, of course, but I don’t think probable. With his political aspirations, I do think they have a motive to lie for him. He can pay them back later for their loyalty, in one way or another, if his political career is spared. I guess I’m the opposite of gullible. I just have a hard time believing they’d orchestrate this without his knowledge. It is an awful big thing to do for “payback” on one’s own. People don’t do things for no reason, what did they have to gain by doing it? The only person who really had something to gain was Christie, but exerting his power and showing that Democratic mayor who was boss and that he could really mess things up in that city if they dared to cross him…

    I think a lot more info is bound to come out. I suppose only time will tell if something comes out to link him to this. We see all the time how politicians make grand denials at first because they honestly think they are above the law and they honestly think they can get away with whatever they want, but once the facts come out, we see they are more often than not, all lies.

  7. Amber Hoover said at 3:26 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    I’m with Michele Hermanson. I think people in political administrations who aren’t the face of the office (especially those who work for someone with presidential ambitions) take the fall for their bosses all the time. And I think it’s understood that that’s how it goes and that you’re sacrificing yourself to the greater “good,” with the idea that you may be rewarded somewhere down the line. I just can’t see any motivation at all for them to have acted if not based on Christie’s command.

    Even though I disagree on that point, I think the heart and message of this post is spot on, and really well said! Whoever it was who made the call, they should have known better and thought it through. Excellent advice.

  8. mihow said at 3:30 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Here’s the deal regarding Chirstie: In the end, if he knew or didn’t know, the fact still stands: the members of his staff have free will. They chose to act poorly as grownups. They did this. Unless he was holding a gun to their heads, they acted on their own. They made their own choices. I don’t care if they were worried they’d lose their jobs. This was stupid decision after stupid decision. They have only themselves to blame for how things went down. They sent the emails. They wrote things like, “They are the children of Buono voters”. Christie didn’t force them to. So, even if he DID know and orchestrate it, they still made piss-poor choices. That point is still valid. As grownups, they screwed up.

  9. mihow said at 3:37 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    OK, let’s try this idea.

    Christie has proven himself to be pretty damn charismatic. And he’s been called a bully in the past, probably has that whole “frat boy” thing going for him. When you’re with him, you’re on top of the world! When you’re not, meh. And I reckon he has people around him trying hard to gain his approval, make him laugh, get a noogie—whatever-the-fuck.

    So, then. Let’s say he is telling the truth, he had no idea… maybe these two buffoons figured they would get a big ol’ ass slap for their awesome work, not truly understanding that the consequences would be far, far worse than a horrible traffic jam. In a sense it was a game they felt their boss would approve of because their boss is an overgrown fratboy basically.

    This seems plausible, more so (to me) than his orchestrating it and then doing a bang-up, oscar-worthy job lying about it yesterday.

    Again: he cultivated the environment where his faithful followers felt this would make him think they were hilarious and awesome. But I’m still not sold on his direct orchestration. (Not that I believe other leaders aren’t guilty of orchestrating such things and letting others take the fall. I’m gullible! But not completely naive.)

  10. Amber H. said at 3:39 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Exactly! I hope that was clear in my comment. While I might disagree on where the initial plan came from, your point still holds for any and all directly involved. I do think the power rush of politics makes people think they’re invincible and won’t get caught sometimes, though. Case in point (and another one who should have followed this advice): Anthony Weiner.

  11. scbob said at 7:42 pm on January 10th, 2014:

    Now why is it the title of this sounds just slightly familiar to me?

  12. Kizz said at 3:14 pm on January 13th, 2014:

    They should all be held accountable. I do agree with you. But I also believe that he knew and was part of the plan. A friend of mine who is quite politically savvy has suggested that even being found out has been a bit of a boon for Christie because he’s able to see how this sort of apology/scapegoating/covering up goes in a smaller pond before he moves on to the sea of a presidential campaign. I find it absolutely plausible that people would lie to him to boost him up the ladder. The fact that they’re all stupid enough to put it in email, though, (ditto Weiner and his well-tweeted weiner) is unbelievable.

  13. mihow said at 4:38 pm on January 13th, 2014:

    Well, as more and more information is being released, it doesn’t seem likely Christie is going to get away with any of this scot-free. I say the chances he’ll be the Republican nominee come 2016 are zero. If they don’t catch him lying about knowing about the lane closures, it sounds like they’re going to get him for other things, such as using Sandy funds to pay for campaign ads.

    It ain’t looking good for him even if they can’t prove he knew about what took place. And, also, I am not sure if I made this clear: let’s say he DIDN’T know, what does it say about a leader if all of this was taking place behind without his knowledge?

    What a mess. What a freaking mess.

    And now we have the whole Lisa Adams-cancer thing… I know what the Kellers wrote were opinion pieces, but really, what good can come from their words? Some ad revenue for the NYT/Guardian? Again: probably shouldn’t have been published.


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