Your eyes fly open to find the alarm clock winking a slow taunting 12:00 back at you. (Dear Lord.) You try to reach something with your one free arm (the other is still under covers), anything to confirm the time. You reach the cell phone. (Gasp!). But that can’t be right. Where is the watch? (Instant headache). You’re late! You throw the covers off and flee from bed, stumping your toe on your way to the bathroom. As you hobble into the shower in haste the water isn’t set quite right and you scald the leg with the stumped toe. Retreating to try again, the water is too cold but you don’t have the time to waste so you have a frosty shower. Drying off you remember immediately, you’re out of deodorant. (Sigh.) And so the day goes on.
Surely you’ve had one of these, or one something like it, one of those days when everything goes wrong, right from the start. We call them ‘bad days’, although usually ‘bad’ seems a poor, weak description of the mammoth failure of a day it has been. Hopefully, since you’ve been home there haven’t been many of these. For one thing, why bother to set the alarm anymore? But imagine a bad day where things go so wrong, other people die. And you get to live with it.
Yesterday Yahoo! News featured a story captioned “Titanic sunk by steering mistake, author says”. The story states that according to writer Louise Patten, granddaughter of Titanic’s second officer Charles Lightoller, were it not for an “error” in judgment, the infamous ship which sank in 1912 taking 1,517 people to their deaths, need not have sank as fast as it did. It was a “fatal mistake” that caused the ship to fully sink before rescue could arrive. Patten is quoted as saying “If Titanic had stood still, she would have survived at least until the rescue ship came and no one need have died”. The author claims that her grandfather lived with the secret of the ill-fated decisions which truly led to the disaster, in order to save Titanic’s owners from bankruptcy and his colleagues from unemployment.
A fatal mistake, an error in judgement and 1,517 lives lost when “no one need have died”. Can there be a greater tragedy?
I was relieved of my job without anyone asking if I thought I needed relief from it and from time to time, I tend to wallow in my perceived injustice of it. Yesterday was one such day for me. I woke with a headache and used the opportunity to grump and frump around for most of the day. If asked I could easily chalk it up to a bad one. (Not that anyone was asking). I will usually cut myself some slack when I fall into these personal pity parties. You and I know these moments of self-imposed grief are part of being unemployed and are also an essential part of our recovery process. But after I read this article I realized that perhaps my bad day, was perhaps not that bad. The headache had passed, only I had failed to notice. And I had also failed to notice in my gloom, the many other but wonderful things around me I had to be grateful for. My day was in fact made bad, only because I choose to see it so. Unlike first officer William Murdoch, I still had time to recover from a bad decision. I could choose to make my day a good one.While (clearly) I never knew him, my heart goes out to Charles Lightoller, for the grievous errors made, for the anguish of lives lost, for the burden of secrets kept and for the history to be rewritten about this once heroic icon, surely now turned villain, his was truly a bad day.
Perhaps in reflection your next bad day, may not seem so bad. And while, like I do, you may struggle with understanding why you’re not working, I hope you can read this with a sense of peace. Knowing any mistakes you made on the job, or any mistakes you were thought to have made, were not fatal.
Today, I sincerely wish you a good day.