Thoughts from a teacher-librarian

The Bitter Nut

The library staff members in my district recently held a party to honor the people retiring from library jobs this year. It was intended to be a night of celebration and fun. We met after hours at a public facility to have drinks, socialize and eat dinner together.  Then we sat back for the official program: recognition of the retirees and their years of service. Most retirees had a colleague introduce them, give a little speech about them, and then would take the stand for a few words of their own. There were stories, tears, some laughter….. probably typical of any retirement party. Then came person X. (I thought about calling her “She who shall not be named,” in a nod to Harry Potter.)

Person X went to the podium, pulled out a sheaf of papers, and proceeded to give a long list of all the grievances that she had with employees past and present. Many people in the room made her list, even though she didn’t  say many names, just job titles. It was a rude farewell address; she basically said that she was smarter than anyone else and had been treated badly because of it. Wow…..what an ego. I am a new employee this year and don’t know her well so I was quite taken aback. What a horrible way to exit.

I have to say that even though I barely know X she was in my thoughts as I drove home. I hope that I never lose perspective so completely. I could see from the faces of many people in the room that they were shocked and upset at X. Is that the lasting memory she really wanted? Did she feel victorious when done?

A wise co-worker summed it all up for me this morning. She said that on the way home after the party she also kept thinking of this person with astonishment. She said that over the many years she has known X she has sometimes had issues with her, but always kept a cordial relationship and admired X’s special talents. She said the party was like eating a handful of almonds and really enjoying it and then the last one you pop into your mouth is a bitter one. It takes away all of the pleasure you had in eating the first ones, which were so yummy. She said that X was the bitter nut. How true!

How sad to choose not to have anyone else speak about you fondly. How sad to choose to use your farewell address as a time to “get even.” I think that many people will remember her with distaste now.  Perhaps some will feel sympathetic, but I can’t quite get to that point. It was pathetic.

X, you bitter nut, good luck to you in your future endeavors. I hope that you learn that happiness comes from within, and that you can’t always blame others for your dissatisfaction. You get to choose how you face each day. Thanks for the reminder to choose a positive attitude!

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