Learning from Disappointments
The day after returning from a Michigan trip, Lily and I drove one very hot day, at least 3 hours from home, to help a librarian with her summer reading program. She had called me on the phone and begged me to come with a “Reader Dog.” She told me their summer funding had been cut, and how the community needed to hold the program together for all the kids who loved their summer reading camp at school. It was badly needed, she said, as the community offered nothing else for the kids. Lily made a trip to the groomers and I ironed her official “Reader Dog” neckerchief. We were off ....
But I was irritated when I left there after two hours. There were no children there to read to Lily, and none that I could read to. There were no kids, no program, no plan, no participants. There were 8-10 toddler moms standing around in tennis outfits grousing with each other while the toddlers mauled the books, slobbered into their Sippy cups, and dropped Cheerios around the school library floor. No one was interested in Lily, me, or my books and that includes the librarian who I saw briefly before she went into her air conditioned office for the morning. The only person who spoke to us at all in two hours was a visiting grandmother who came along as a guest of a toddler’s mom. They could have done this without me. I’d not added one thing for them. What was I doing there? A seven-hour round trip, mileage, gas, dog panting, and my time. I learned from this trip I need to begin to be selective. No is also a word.
Disappointments can blow in on storm clouds or snow storms. There have also been times when teachers failed to notify families that I was speaking to their classes and the students would have an opportunity to get a signed book if they brought money. On those occasions there are no book sales.
School librarians usually buy books for the library and teachers will order them for their classrooms. However on one recent outing a school librarian said, “I really hate to invest in new books, the kids just tear them up.” In her library, most books are on the higher shelves. Only the “tore up” books are on the primary shelves. Whether or not they are kindergarten material, if they are “tore up” they are there for the kindergarten and primary classes. That just “tore up” my heart.
During these three years of travel there have been hotel confirmations in my hand that matched nothing at the hotel desk. I’ve had emails and confirmations in my hand from reenactment organizers only to find no one knew I was coming. I’ve kept appointments at book stores and found the manager had taken the day off! I went to a book festival prepared with my exhibit for an 8 foot table only to discover I was sharing a 6 foot table.
What is there to do but smile and say to the event chairman, “Oh well, I’ll just set my table over here, I won’t be in the way. Thanks anyway!” To the hotel manager I say, “Take your time, I don’t need my room until after supper. May I leave my things here behind your counter? I’ll be back for my room then. Thank you for doing this for me.”
You can always make it work, even when it’s aggravating. Selling is hard work. Don’t make it harder by engaging in these minor disappointments that can work their way into huge rows that you don’t need. Make your dealings with people as stress free as possible. Save your energy for selling.