Sunday, June 2, 2013

Where Do You Draw the Pride Line?

When we think we've been mistreated, our self-respect (if we have any) will speak up.  It will say, "Do not let yourself get mistreated again (at least not in the same way by the same people).  

It will say, "Here is where we draw a line."  
Let's call this the pride line.

A full-time job came up at a college where I was teaching sessionally.  The interviewers asked whether I would continue to work for them if I did not get the full-time job.

I said, "Absolutely."  I had only been teaching for them briefly.  I was learning a lot and having fun.  Another interviewee told me that she said "no" to that question.  She believed that she deserved the job and not getting it would cross her pride line.

I ran into her a few months later.  She was working as a substitute teacher at my daughter's school.

Dave, a friend of mine, is a freelance writer of music articles and reviews.  The national newspaper had been publishing Dave's articles for 15 years in addition to articles written by the writer on full-time staff.  When the staff writer was re-assigned, and the paper needed someone new, Dave was not even interviewed.  When Dave phoned the arts editor, he was told that a well-known broadcaster had been given the position.  The editor then encouraged him to continue to submit ideas for freelance articles.  Dave said, "I don't think so."  Dave had found his pride line and was not willing to cross it.

I hung around the community college and was eventually given a full-time job.  During government cutbacks of the 1990s, the director that hired me retired.  A hatchet man took his place and, soon after, I was laid off.  A year later, I was back to teaching part-time (twice the work, half the pay).  It was soon evident that they had laid off too many people, and by Y2K they were advertising for full-timers again.  The director interviewing me for my former job was the same guy who had laid me off.  This time, not only was I not rehired, but the director did not even let me know.  After waiting anxiously for a week, I contacted HR and they told me that the position had been filled the day of my interview.  Six weeks later, the director called me to say that I didn't get the job, but would I be interested in a part-time or sessional position in the fall.  I said, "I don't think so."

I had found my pride line -- but I had also contacted another college.  It was in a city 100 km away - 75 minutes door-to-door.  They called me immediately after my interview to say they had courses for me to teach in the fall and  would schedule them over three days to accommodate the extra travel.  It was completely worth it.  I was lucky.

It's complicated.  On one side of the line is humility and gratefulness.  On the other side is pride and self-respect.  Have you ever had to draw a pride line?  Are you glad you did?

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