An Unexpected Visit Home

Friday, January 27, 2017

This Tuesday morning, I received a text message at 5 am, but instead of reading it, I decided to cling to my pillow a little longer. 30-45 minutes later I awoke to the news, one of my beloved uncles had transitioned. Immediately, my cousin and I texted back and forth. Shamefully, I didn’t have his number saved. From there I spoke with my cousin in Chicago, Memphis and then my mother who had gone to the hospital to be with my uncle, his wife and children.

School that day was unusually good. I found myself crying in my morning class as my students consoled me, ignorant of what happened. My second class seemed to have been sensitive and supportive again, without knowledge of the circumstances.  And my third class, they joyfully pushed me to work, hard.

I thought about my uncle. How goofy and funny he was. How he and his family had been on my mind constantly the past few weeks. How I’d felt ashamed that I hadn’t really talked to them recently. How I had gone home to visit without spending much time at all with him and his family.

As I checked online for airfare, I quickly realized the short notice trip would be more expensive than I could afford. Megabus is almost worthless from Nola being there are only 3 destinations, Memphis not being one of them. I was reluctant to drive, knowing I’d be extremely tired upon my return and teaching; you have to reserve the much needed energy to expel in the classroom.

Greyhound was the choice. I figured I could read, write and think without having to be too too concerned with the road. Did I mention when I’m not driving I often get motion sickness? Unless, someone I trust is driving.

This week, school had been extremely chaotic, and the children haven’t been the cause. The adults have. Standing between women, who can’t squash a disagreement from three years ago and continuously go back and forth, was the cause of many headaches. Including the fact I had my own ideas to meditate on, a part of me embraced taking Friday off for my travel home to Mississippi.

Friday morning, I clung hard to my pillow again. Unlike me. I didn’t have a friend to take me to the bus station, so I reserved an Uber. Running late, I missed my 8:50AM bus.

My Uber driver and I talked for a few minutes about his football career at a school in Mississippi, a beautiful, sweet woman he’d met and foolishly let get away, and how once his divorce was finalized, he would find her.

Talk about disharmony, I was feeling it. Though I was ready to accept the consequences of my being late, the employees of greyhound went out of their way to accommodate me.

After some consultation, a driver agreed to allow me to ride with him to Baton Rouge.

The bus driver and I talked about his home, Nigeria, some customs and how they differ from America, and how he hopes to soon one day settle and have his own family. He, too, said he wasn’t ready to settle when he had the opportunity.

As I made my way home to see my family, I thought about the poem I was writing and would share at my uncle’s funeral, how I’d missed opportunities to love on my Uncle and other family members, and how often we exist in the same space without actually connecting with one another.

I love him very much. He was the first loved one (that I really knew) I’ve had to transition. My first real encounter with death.

I anxiously traveled down the long country road to my grandparents rural and modest estate. There were cars everywhere, family and friends everywhere. Sad occasion but grand gathering.

Going into the house, I was initially afraid to look anyone in their eyes, scared of what I’d find. People were strong. I knew I had to be. My uncle was one who loved laughter and fun.

We must take time to connect, to love, and to appreciate the ones we love. Let’s not be so consumed with our own lives that we neglect to revel in the now. 

 

 

The Importance of Professionalism

Have you ever hired a person to do a job and they didn’t deliver? Were you left with the short end of the stick? How did that make you feel? Or maybe you left someone else wanting more?

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Professionalism is one of the most important qualities you can find in a person these days. Some may even say more important than talent or ability. Sometimes I wonder if people aren’t being professional because they simply don’t know how. Before your start to do business, it is vital that you understand the practices that are common to that industries professionals. These are a few reasons why we  should strive to be more professional, especially if we are in business for ourselves.

1.        It is a reflection on your and/or your company

2.        You want to deliver exactly what you promised.

3.        Being professional will get you more jobs

Your reputation precedes you. If you’re known for being late or not giving your best ability, people will talk and they will tell.  “I hired with her one time and she did absolutely nothing she said she was going to do.” The saying, “bad news spreads like wildfire” is common for a reason.  You don’t want that person to be you. No one wants to be known as a liar. It’s simple, don’t commit to something you know you can’t do. If you’re going to be late, call in advanced. Like you, people seriously value their time. Don’t waste theirs or yours. If you’re asked to do something, and you agree, deliver! And last, communicate. If there is something wrong, it is good practice to always have open lines of communication. I’ve seen many relationships (professional and personal) get strained and eventually disintegrate because people weren’t sharing semantic space. When you don’t tell someone how you feel, your opinions or what’s causing a hindrance in your performance, you leave them to assume and speculate. When people assume they almost never assume the best.
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People sometimes don’t remember exactly what you said, but they remember how you made them feel. When you deliver the goods, people feel good. They’ll always associate you with a good feeling. Sometimes those feelings can even cause a person to remember things better than they were. They can rest assured, if you’re on the job, it will be done and it will be done well.

When you establish a good working/professional relationship with someone they will share that as well. Anytime they need your services they will come to you. If they know anyone else who need your services they will refer you. Happy clients equal more clients. More clients equal more relationships and partnerships which equal more work.

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In the professional world it’s all about building relationships. People like to work with those they enjoy being around. You have to decide before you even start working, what kind of relationship do you want to have. One that’s strong, pleasurable and profitable? Or one that’s frustrating and draining. You get out what you put in.

Comment below and tell me about a time someone lost your business because their professionalism disappointed you.