Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
Oh no! I feel the urge to vent my spleen. I’m not even sure where that term came from ... vent my spleen. But I know what it means. It means I’m getting ready to verbalize (or in this case, write) something that is bothering me. I’ve got a bone to pick, an ax to grind. If you’re looking for humor this week, you’ll have to YouTube “people slipping on banana peels” because I’m not feeling very humorous.
I’m sure there are a lot of things my parents tried to teach me that never sank into my less-than-stellar brain. Here are just a few that I know for sure flew right over my head: Keep your room clean and organized. Get things done ahead of schedule. Check the oil in your car. (Blessedly, my husband now does this so that we don’t lose an engine). Always put the phone book back in the drawer. Of course, because I’m an adult now, they long ago gave up the idea of molding me. They’ve happily accepted me as is. But there’s one thing they taught me that is seared in my brain. Yes, seared. But before I tell you that absolute truth, allow me to start with a story.
Recently my family took some college students to an educational weekend event at a park in Middle Tennessee. It was wonderful. The programming was focused around nature and natural resources. The college students were attentive, cooperative and enthusiastic. The presenters were talented and knowledgeable. Awesome. Sheerly awesome. Except for one little thing. The audience. When the emcee would stand up to introduce a presenter, many people in the audience felt the need to continue their all-important conversations with the person sitting next to them. Babies were crying. Toddlers were making loud noises. School-age children were having actual conversations with their parents during the presentations. I wanted to stand up and loudly proclaim my parents’ mantra: If someone is UP FRONT talking, you’re NOT talking!
OK. I know some of you are saying, “Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, be kind. Give the preschool parents a break. If their baby starts screaming in the middle of a nature science show, it’s not their fault.” Absolutely right. I remember having preschoolers. And no, I couldn’t control when they chose to scream. BUT I could show respect for other audience members by getting up and leaving the presentation. Is it sad when a preschool parent has to miss a movie or a presentation or even a great sermon because their baby started screaming in the middle of it? It is sad. Is it worse for them to inflict their screaming child on the rest of the audience and on a frazzled presenter so as to ruin it for everyone? Yeah. Trust me, that’s a lot worse.
If this had been an unusual situation, I probably wouldn’t have written a column about it. But it wasn’t. Lately I’ve been at several events with a similar dynamic. Someone stands at a podium and there is still a roar of conversation in the crowd. I’m ready to call it what it is. Selfish. Disrespectful. Rude.
I’m sorry this column was such a downer. But if it helps one person remember my parents’ mantra, it will be worth it. If someone is up front talking, you’re not talking.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.20.11
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View