I'm a problem solver by nature. And I'm married to an expert problem solver. When a challenge rears its ugly head, we'll examine possibilities, consider consequences, determine strategies, and work to solve the puzzle together. We don't always find the answers, often because we realize that many of the challenges we all face sooner or later are totally beyond our control. We've learned to not take much personally as a result. However, we find comfort in trying to find solutions.
I believe one trait problem solvers have that others may not is that we aren't afraid to take a course of action. A business mentor of mine, Frances Mercer, once told me, "Doing something is always better than doing nothing; at least you'll know sooner what doesn't work." Her words served me well over the years.
This morning I am miffed because I'm unable to do a load of laundry. It's silly to stew about this, I know. I wanted to do it yesterday, after my grueling physical therapy session, but my neighbors from across the street had taken over the laundry room. We have one washer and dryer that is shared between two apartment houses. I'm home during the week; I have more free time: I only have to go outside my door to access the laundry room. I was giving them their turn.
When I went down in the basement this morning with my first basket of clothes, the washer indicated 13 minutes left. Weird. No clothes were in the machine. My neighbors had run up and down these stairs a dozen times or more yesterday (I know, because Rupert barks at them since the stairs are right outside our door) so they must have been washing something so I put the lid down to "finish" the time. And water streamed out of the machine. Then I realized why they'd left the door open overnight. And why their kitchen mop was there. They had flooded the floor yesterday.
But had they called the 800 number that is PLASTERED on the walls of the laundry room so someone would come to fix the machine so they could use it again....or another tenant? Had they called the landlord? No. Of course, problem solver that I am, I called both. And our landlord asked if I would please go speak with my neighbor "because they like you and you're so good at talking to people". Yeah. And because he's not. And because the folks across the street are immigrants and the landlord's not patient enough with them to really explain things well.
She smiled so brightly at me when we talked. "You fixed?" Those were the first words she said to me. Not "Hello" or "How's your arm?", her usual greeting to me these days. No, it was "You fixed?" She expected me to fix this problem for her. She could have done it herself, easily. Or have one of her teen aged children who are becoming "Americanized" very quickly do it for her. But she sat back and waited for someone else to fix it for her.
And I couldn't help but wonder as I crossed the street.....is this something she has learned since moving to America?
I hope not.