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Be an Active Complainer

Checking the messages on our work machine is one of my least favorite things because I have to go through the series of 4 numbers, then wait, put in 5 more numbers, wait, 1 number, wait, 1 number. We had two separate phones, meaning I was supposed to go through this process twice, but I got that changed. It’s a nightmare for someone who loves efficiency.

Yesterday, I go through the whole process to check one message. The message said (in an irritated tone) simply, “[It] isn’t working, what are we going to do to fix this?” [quick hang up].

I was taken aback (and a little bugged) at first but then I thought, wouldn’t it be great if she actually meant that? She didn’t leave her name or number so I don’t think she actually had any intention of helping, but she said “we.” Now I understand that passive-agressiveness is a part of our society but I thought about finding her number in the call history and calling back, “Hey, thanks for wanting to be a part of the team, I would love to explain the process to you and how you can help.” Now, I’m judging but I don’t think she wanted to help and I’m not even sure she really wanted to understand why there was a problem.

I like problem-solvers. I try and surround myself with them. It makes life easier and more enjoyable.

I’ve been working in public service for just about 8 months now and it’s really opened my eyes to how much people complain and how much better it is when there are people in the community who see a need and do what they can to fill it themselves. Want to see a music or arts festival? Start one. Want to see upgrades to the parks? Want another dog park? Vote for the RAP tax. Or pull a Leslie Knope and get your friends to build a park with you (I can’t confirm if that’s legal or not but I saw it on TV so…). Come to council meetings. Go to any meeting, really, and speak up while you’re there, try and come up with solutions. If you’re worried about the youth of today go coach a sport or find another opportunity to be a mentor.

I see so many people doing awesome things. People are solving hunger, helping women get educated, making playground equipment that conducts electricity. Just listen to NPR, there are some good stories. It’s amazing and a lot of it happens just because someone is motivated enough to pull together the resources to do something.

It’s really easy to see the problems around us but I believe it’s also pretty easy to try and come up with solutions. Not every problem has an easy fix, but a lot of them do. If you have the energy to complain I’m sure that energy could be put to some good use. So, if you’re going to complain, be an active complainer. Take the sarcasm out of “What are we going to do to fix this?” and it’s a pretty good mantra.

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