I have a confession to make:

I’m a screw-up.

A big, fat, screw up.

That is, if you listen to all my critics, I am.

I don’t eat properly.  I’m too fat.   I need to exercise more and watch what I eat.

My voice is too loud.  I talk too much.  I repeat my jokes.

I have a temper, and I swear.

I’m too opinionated.  I’m too “redneck”.   I’m messy and don’t put things away.

Oh, and I complain too much.

I’m too negative, which apparently makes it hard to be around me sometimes.

So, naturally, there are times that I feel I might have outstayed my welcome.

That’s when I’ll decide to tone things down a bit, and keep to myself for a while.

But then it’s:  “How come you’re so quiet, Friar?  Is anything wrong?  How come we never hear from you?”

But those are just my personal faults.   Let’s not forget work.

I chat too much.   I distract people.

I don’t manage my time properly.

How come this memo’s taking you so long?

If I do “A”, I’m told to do “B”.

So next time, I do “B”, they tell me I should have done “A” instead.

I’ve been told that maybe I’m in the wrong line of work, maybe I shouldn’t be in my present position.

After which they’ll complain that I don’t seem to be enthusiastic about the project.

But I’ll  get a positive performance review, and a promotion.

Then shortly after, I’m scolded again.

Like if I don’t’ take my work seriously, maybe I should look somewhere else.

But I don’t dare complain about work.

Because people don’t’ want to hear about it.  I’ll be accused of being negative again.

And if I happen to feel stressed out about all this,  that’s apparently because I choose to let it.    (So I’ve been told).

I guess feeling bad is my fault TOO.

So, based on the popular the Critic opinion, I’m apparently a big screw-up and can’t do anything right..


But the other day, I was at a party, and I met a woman.

She was there with her family, and we started chatting.

For whatever reason, she started to tell me about her 20-year old son that she had lost just a few years ago.   It was a tragic car crash a few miles from home.

She told me how difficult it had been to deal with, and all the emotional hurdles she had to overcome.    Yet overcome them she did.

She wasn’t feeling sorry for herself.   She wasn’t asking for pity.

I could see she just wanted to talk to someone.

So I listened.

I didn’t solve her grief, or bring her son back.

But I listened.

Because she needed it.

And in some small, tiny way, I think my being there helped her.  Even if just for few minutes.


So, despite what everyone says, I know that at least I did that one thing right.

And it was that one thing right that mattered the most

And you know what?   It felt good.

Maybe I’m not such a screw-up, after all.

Explore posts in the same categories: Friar's Grab Bag

35 Comments on “Screw-up”

  1. Kyddryn Says:

    Sugar, you tell those negative-Nellies to hush – you’re no more a screw up than anyone else. We’re all muddling through as best we can, and I’ve found that the ones criticizing the loudest are the ones with the most flaws to hide.

    What’s wrong with taking joy in life’s pleasures? What’s wrong with wanting to share laughter, joy, to seek to lighten the load a little?


    Bless you for listening, Friar…for giving that woman a little piece of compassion and empathy. You’re a good man.

    Next time someone calls you a screw up, or even implies it…you send ’em my way. Them’s fightin’ words.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  2. Davina Says:

    You just wrote this so that everyone would tell you that you AREN’T a screw-up right? 🙂

    I think you’ve got your head screwed on better than a lot of people who pretend they’ve got it all together. You’re keepin’ it real! Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give a person and she was one lucky lady to cross your path.

  3. Friar Says:

    Negative Nellies…yeah. I call it “Comments from the Peanut Gallery”. Everyone’s an expert in running my life, except me.

    It’s really easy to believe all the criticism…IF you let it. That’s my constant battle…to NOT listen to the Peanut Gallery.

    Oh, I know I’m not a screw-up! I wasn’t trying to get external validation here! 😉

    My point here was that we’re constantly nit-picked for all these things we’re NOT doing by all the Nay-Sayers and Negative Nellies.

    But that’s all bullshit background noise…and that we shouldn’t lose track of what’s really important to us.

  4. From Dr. Seuss

    Those who mind, don’t matter
    Those who matter, don’t mind.

    Just be YOU!

  5. XUP Says:

    I don’t know YOU, but I do like to read your blog. It makes me smile and brightens up my day a little. And I like the comments you leave on my blog because they’re witty and sensible. So, I’m just saying there are probably lots of little things like this we all do that touch people in small, but important ways every day. We tend to forget that sometimes when the big poopy things come down. (And now I sound like Oprah and will have to go wash my mouth out with Javex)

  6. Brett Legree Says:

    Well, I don’t think you’re a screw up, and obviously neither did that woman at the party, or the people who read what you write here.

    It sounds to me like the people who give you a hard time can’t accept you for who you are, and because you won’t fit into whatever it is they see you doing, they ride you for it.

    I’ve had that in the past.

    One thing I’ve learned – you can’t change those other people.

    We can only change ourselves.

    And really, since we can’t change our inner selves too much (hey, it’s who we are), we have to change our outer selves instead.

    Our environment. Where we work, where we live, who we associate with, and so on.

    To do anything else is to be untrue to ourselves.

    I don’t like my job, so I’m working to change that.

    I want to live somewhere else far, far away, so I’m working to change that, too.

    What I have found over the past few years is that from time to time, I’ll “try to make it work” right here, where I’m living, where I’m working.

    And you know what, it makes me *fucking miserable*.

    This tells me there is nothing wrong with me.

    And there is nothing wrong with you.

    We’re just not where we need to be.

    I know where I need to be, and I think you know where you need to be.

    It is up to us to go there.

  7. Brett Legree Says:

    PS – it is difficult if you are receiving negative criticism from your family.

    I went through that years back, during a time in my life when I could really have used some positive support.

    And what did I do?

    I cut them off. Completely. Likely the only reason why I made up is because, well, they are my family.

    Had I received that kind of treatment from someone not in my family, that would have been it.

    And you know what? They learned. They know that if they ever do that again to me, they’re finished.

  8. Kyddryn Says:

    Yep, it’s difficult to block out all that negativity…especially when it’s aimed right at your vulnerable places. How is it that critical, ugly-minded folk always seem to hone in on the weak points? If I had that kind of skill with finances, I’d be a wealthy woman now.

    I grew up with it. Under the guise of “I love you and I care about you, so I’m going to say/do what hurts to protect/help you…” an enormous amount of cruelty occurred.

    Today, if I heard someone speaking to a child as I was spoken to, I would feel obligated to report the offender to the authorities for abuse. And (in case you didn’t know this already) I am very much ANTI involving authorities in anything. I’d rather burn my hair.

    How on earth can anyone believe that saying horrible things is not only acceptable, but helpful?

    What happened to love and compassion?

    And why is there such a dearth of supportive commentary?


    Meanwhile, you know what we do to peanuts in Georgia? Elect them president! Oh, wait, no, that was a peanut FARMER. No…peanuts get ground down into peanut butter (and, occasionally, tainted with salmonella and distributed globally so children and people with no teeth can learn a valuable lesson. I don’t know what the lesson is – I’m not in the loop – but I’m sure there was a reason for not telling people the product was unsafe until long after it was shipped. Did I go off on a tangent? Whoops.)

    I like Brett’s thinking – if you don’t fit someone else’s mold, don’t change you – change the mold. I hope you find whatever you need to get you where you belong as soon as possible…don’t want you worn down to a nubbin!

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K (occasional blatherskite)(What do you mean, “What do you mean by occasional?”?)

  9. Steph Says:

    Friar: No one here is a screw-up, they just make screwy choices sometimes, and that doesn’t define who they are. And screwy is totally subjective, anyway, so who’s to say you’re a screw-up, by whose standards?

    Bah, humbug, I say. Your choices are your own and you made them for whatever reason you saw made sense at the time. Your choices are your prerogative, and I highly doubt, where they concern others, that you’re a jerk.

    There are two reasons people tell you what they think of you negatively: either because they’re opinionated twits or because they want better for you (yes, their definition of better, but sometimes it’s not a bad thing). You already know what to do with the ones who are simply nasty and who don’t really matter in your life. As for the ones who are telling you because they want better, well, tell them what you think in response so they get your perspective as well.

    Another thing, though: sometimes shit people say bothers us because they hit a nerve: deep down we know there’s a grain of truth and that we should be doing it or having it or being it or whatever, but it’s too hard. I think those grains of truth deserve some careful reflection as well.

    I’m not saying any one or all of those accusations you’ve listed above are true, I’m saying in general, I’ve noticed it true of myself that when I get pissed about something someone tells me about myself, sometimes it’s actually true and I don’t want to acknowledge it about myself.

    That aside, whether it matters or not, or makes you feel better or not since my definition may be different than another’s, I’ve read you enough here to say I don’t consider you a screw-up. I like you. I even care about you. That’s why I keep coming back.

  10. Little Brother and Friend.

    You want to know something?

    I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of that stuff you listed.


    Because you are a good friend. You care deeply about your friends, you are there when it matters, you listen…you empathise, you are funny, creative…very talented and you can’t hide your kindness no matter how crummudgened you sometimes sound.

    we- who are your true friends love you just the way you are- and there are lots of us.

  11. Lorraine Says:

    Well coming from the “woman at the party”, it was a pleasure to talk with you and share some very deep conversation. You are a very good listener and it was a pleasure to get to know you.

  12. Eyeteaguy Says:

    Holy crap, for a second there I though you were talking about me! I was gonna kick your ass! But then you said something about being a redneck so then I thought you were talking about Brett.

    Anyway, go read my guest post at Brett’s blog (again).
    Or at mine.

    I like you. No judgment, no nit picking, no corrective action required. Everyone else who disagrees can go take a flying leap.

    But I am coming to Splat Creek 4 days and I will tease you mercilessly.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.


    P.S. I only tease people I like, I’m a freak that way. So if I am being nice to you its because I don’t like you.

  13. Friar Says:

    @Army Wife
    You can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss.

    Sam I am. 😉

    Okay, I’ll let the Oprah comment pass, just this once, only because you’re so nice right now! 😉

    If I can make people laugh, even just a little, that means more to me than getting that crucial memo done on time at the office.

    Like they say in that movie “Midnight Express”, you and I are BAD MACHINES.

    We just gotta find a place, where we are GOOD.

    I hope such places exist. I really do.

    Well, 95% of the time, I don’t even bother to listen to the comments from the Peanut gallery. But every once in a while, shit happens, things catch up to you, and you feel vulnerable.

    And that’s when the critics seem to swarm like flies, and try to find chinks in your armor.

    Whatever. Chink away. I’m used to it.

    PS. Peanut farmers getting elected president. Heh heh. Where did THAT come from?

    (Maybe just a bit of blather, eh?)

    Oh, I realize the criticisms have a grain of truth to them.

    Just that we don’t need constant reminders. Especially when we’re down.

    PS. I like you too! 😀

    I agree. Most of the time, I don’t give a rat’s ass about all the other comments. But every once in a while, it gets to be a bit much.

    That’s when I give myself a time-out. And lay-low for a while. Till the storm blows.

    And I try to avoid the negative Nellies, and hang out with friends like you guys. …Thanks for brightening my day!


    Ahhh..I knew I could count on you for an ass-kicking comment to help cheer me up.

    Brett’s already warned me in advance of your arrival.

    (Brett, hide your dog and/or kids…I know a place by the river where they’ll be safe).

    When you get here, what kind of idiot video game to you want to play while drunk?

  14. Allison Day Says:

    Bah. Screw them. If you had a dollar for every time you did or said something to make me smile, you’d be a very rich man indeed. Put that together with all the other people you make smile… and that’s all that really matters. 🙂

  15. Friar Says:


    Maybe I should start charging per laugh.

    25 cents for a :-D.

    $1.00 for an “LOL”.

    And a $5.00 bonus for “ROFLOL”

  16. Karen JL Says:

    I like you too.

    Ya big goof. 😀

  17. Friar Says:


    Awww…shucks. Now yer’ makin’ me blush. 🙂

  18. Brett Legree Says:

    I am sure there is such a place. And if not, we will make one.

  19. Friar Says:


    Or…we can hire some Viking mercenaries.

    To come and burn down and pillage the place…and leave only the good parts.

  20. Brett Legree Says:

    I was kind of figuring that the newly formed Viking Management Consulting might pillage and burn companies with obsolete corporate culture, and leave on the good parts 😉

    For a tidy little profit, of course.

  21. Mer Says:

    @ Friar

    And you’re a good son. Don’t forget that.

    @ Brett

    Awwww, I wanna be a Viking!


  22. Brett Legree Says:


    Then you shall be a Viking.

    (It’s really a state of mind, you know.)

  23. Friar Says:


    If you get a helmet with horns, you’re IN.

    We’ll even let you swing the battle-axe.

  24. Liz Says:

    Unfortunately,in corporations, people are promoted to management for their skills in “doing the job,” but in “doing the job” they might not have what it takes to manage and motivate people. It’s a rare breed that can do both. (Speaking from a management perspective and too many years in corporations)

    It helps me to remember that opinions are like assholes..everyone has one…LOL And the only opinion that really counts is YOURS!

    Time is a non-renewable commodity Friar and we don’t know how much we have so we shouldn’t waste it on people or situations that don’t nourish and support us…life is short.

  25. Kelly Says:


    You are a doll.

    Tipper loves you, and dogs know these things.

    ‘Nuff said.




  26. If you are in a situation where you don’t fit, you either change yourself so that you do fit, move yourself out of that place, or put up with it.

    Me, I’d plan my escape. Life is too short to suffer needlessly.

  27. Friar Says:

    It’s funny, because some places have “Leadership Schools” that are supposed to teach the most advanced management techniques.

    But after all is said and done…the staff is probably just as demoralized as ever.

    If I didn’t know any better, “Leadership” means beating people over the head, again, and again, until they get the work done.

    PS. “Assholes…everyone has one.” Heh heh. That’s a keeper!!! 😀

    Tipper’s always great for my self-esteem.

    According to her, I’m the BEST two-legged creature on the whole planet.

    And all I have to do to acheive that esteemed status, is throw her a ball. 🙂


    Changing myself to fit into such a place screams against everything that I believe is righteous and true. If I were to make it work, the Friar I am right now would die, and be replaced by someone I would despise.

    So I guess that pretty much answers any questions on what I need to do, eh?

  28. “So I guess that pretty much answers any questions on what I need to do, eh?”

    In the abstract, certainly. Unfortunately, little things like the need food, housing and a little soap now and then can constrain our choices to some extent.

    More tragically, if you are doing well (financially, not emotionally), it can be very hard to effect a change. When I started my consulting business, I had nowhere to go but up – things truly could not have been any worse financially and emotionally. If I had been doing well financially, I doubt I could have done what I did.

  29. Brett Legree Says:

    As Tony says – that’s the thing about the money. That’s how they keep you in the abusive relationship.

    They knew they’d been giving you a rough time, and to try and keep you from going, they gave you that promotion.

    It is amazing how much crap we can put up with before we will finally leave.

    I know.

    I’ve been putting up with the same shit for 9 years – because the money has been helpful given my own personal life.

    I also know I’m on my way out. But that won’t be the end of it.

    Of course, no job is perfect. But I have a feeling that what is coming down the way for me will be a breath of fresh air compared with this place.

    And once I’m there, I have a plan I will continue to follow. Things will be easier. Things will happen, once the weight is (somewhat) lifted.

    It will be the same for you.

  30. Friar Says:

    Check out XUP’s blog. She recently wrote an interesting post about Freegans.

    Maybe none of us needs to work.

    But yes, like you, I LIKE running water and soap and food.

    And I am doing reasonably well, financially. By default, making more money than I ever did in my life. So the consequences of taking a plunge and making big changes aren’t just trivial. Especially with a mortgage.

    Heh. You know, there are some similarities, there. Between a well-paid but abusive employee. Verssus someone stuck in a bad relationship but they’re too afraid to leave because of financial reasons.

    If we were in a Communist country, we’d all make about the same money, so I could quit my job and go work in a bookstore or Tim Hortons’ or something.

    But knowing my luck, they’d assign me to work in another factory, and put me in a gulag if I refused.

  31. Brett Legree Says:


    You know, I heard that the banquet burgers at the gulag are pretty good…

    …as long as the chef doesn’t put big chunks of bread in as filler 🙂

  32. Oscar Says:

    Friar, I feel the root cause is that you CARE. How dare you! A lot like the Dr. Seuss comment, those who matter don’t mind. However this is more passive. You actively care and cared enough to support another human being. The world is a better place!

    Etymology: Caring comes from the Gothic word “kara” which means ‘to lament.’ So caring is not what a powerful person gives to a weaker one. Caring is a matter of being there … lamenting right along with the one who laments, a.k.a. listening.

  33. Eyeteaguy Says:

    On second though, you are a screw up.
    But don’t worry. I’ll be there in a few days to sort you out.

    Gunnery Sgt. Eyeteaguy

  34. Friar Says:


    No, no, no. The bread chunks are a “Valley Recipe”. They’re SUPPOSED to be that way.


    Maybe that’s my problem. I care.

    I think if I stopped caring how people felt, than I’d fit in better at the Factory.

    Probably get promoted to senior management, actually.


    OH, Lord .

    Ring the bells. Raise the porticullis. Kill the fatted calf.

    Eyeteaguy is coming to town.

  35. Friar Says:


    Sorry, you got lost there in the spam filter (??)

    Anyway, it was fun to meet you too. Hope to see you at the next BBQ. We can chat over a few more beer again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: