Friday, January 15, 2010

Small Town Life in CBA and Other Places - by Tamela Hancock Murray

A few evenings ago my husband and I had reservations at one of our favorite restaurants where we are known to favor a certain table, a table promised to us that night. When we were seated elsewhere, we were surprised and appalled to discover that another couple had stolen our reserved place. Diners should know that at any restaurant where you’re seated, you need to let the host or hostess be aware that you’d like to move. Switching tables without asking is fine at fast food places, but rude elsewhere.

We could have unleashed our displeasure through any number of

Leaving no tip.

Demanding free desserts.

Making the other couple move.

Walking out.

Being unpleasant to the staff and to the owner when she greeted us.

Instead, we chose to make the best of our meal at a table that wasn’t as nicely located and made a point to be pleasant to everyone.

We plan to live in our present location for some time to come, and if we had made a fuss, the staff would have found some way to accommodate us that evening, but at what cost to our reputation? I imagine every time we tried to make reservations in the future, they would have remembered us as being jerks. They could have exercised their option not to allow us to make any more reservations there at all, ever. That could hardly be considered a victory for anyone.

Not getting one’s preferred table for one meal is a trivial matter. It’s the small irritations that trip us, and those are the ones we must also watch in our careers. When I first entered the CBA market, I pictured an ocean of editors. If one didn’t want to buy my book, another would. True, there are many CBA editors with varying tastes.

Over time you’ll find your favorites. But writers who go out of their way to be inconsiderate to other publishing professionals can’t run away. The offended ones might indeed leave one publishing house, but chances are they’ll turn up at another soon, perhaps in even more powerful positions. You don’t want to be remembered as a writer who tried to be difficult. Very, very few writers are so gifted that publishers will put up with rude behavior. Even if you reach that exalted state, don’t take advantage of it. Good will is far more valuable than the small and temporary reward of releasing temper.

The Bible speaks of trespasses and forgiveness often, with the Lord’s Prayer serving as a prime example. Simply by living, we’ll offend someone because all of us are different and will disagree. It’s critical that when tested, we do our best not to escalate the argument.

Treat everyone you meet as a person deserving of consideration and kindness. Even if your efforts not to offend go unappreciated by your neighbor, the Lord takes note, and you will enjoy the rewards of self-respect.

Until next time,



Shmologna said...

A wonderful post. Whether in our physical families or Christian families, our rainbow of personalities almost guarantees a disagreement. But we can be the bigger person. People fly off the handle too much these days and this gentle reminder was necessary. If I ever become a big time writer (whatever that it is) may God keep me gracious!

Carrie Turansky said...

Good words of wisdom, Tamela! It is amazing to see the way agents, editors, publishers, and many others in the publishing industry switch jobs often. It makes me wonder how you keep up with it all! : )

Consideration and professional behavior go a long way. Thanks for the timely reminder.


patriciazell said...

Carrie is right--professionalism wins the day. We can never go wrong when we treat people with respect and curtesy. After all, someday,we may need them to do something for us.

Caroline said...

Thank you, Tamela, for reminding us how christians should live. What a gentle, sweet reminder!

writer jim said...

To be humble will gain you great respect from almost everyone. And God really likes it. To be the common type, selfish and loud, seldom gains you a thing of any importance. I know tons of examples that prove this to be true.

Raquel Byrnes said...

What a wonderful reminder why love and patience are so important to extend to not only those we know, but to those we don't. Great advice!