Note: I'm writing this blog from personal experience. I once mocked the curriculum specialist for using People Bingo. I posted a snarky comment on Facebook and she came to me the next day and told me how much it hurt.
The pen pal networks are down right now. Apparently the conference didn't anticipate such a high use of paper. So, I'm at a cafe with paper and pencil, plogging my problems. I begin this entry, expecting to write about pencil integration and why it doesn't have to server economic interests.
A lady walks in and orders a large coffee. "It's been a tough day," she begins. "I had two people leave my workshop yesterday and when I checked the pen pal network, they had mocked the Ice Breaker I had developed."
"Oh, that's horrible," the waitress comments. "I know a thing or two about grumpy customers, but none of them have ever left the table in mid-meal."
"Do they write 140 character messages that mock you?"
"Nope. Not so much."
"One man even wrote a plog post about it. Plogs last forever. Couldn't he just have talked to me instead?" The lady begins crying. She starts talking about missing her husband and her sons and how hard it is to be creative with something like ice breakers when she's not a fan of them in the first place. For the first time, I see her not as a fixture of a conference, but as a human.
I walk up to her and say, "I'm so sorry. I mocked the ice breakers for being artificial and contrived but then I chose the most artificial and contrived method of complaining. It was cruel and insensitive."
The moment is awkward, but she's gracious.
"I'm sorry for crying," she says.
"Don't apologize. Your tears are a gift. I needed a change in perspective."
For all the discussions my class had about pencil citizenship last year, I feel like a hypocrite. I failed to understand that even in the transgeographic pen pal world, the bottom line should be love.