It’s nobody’s mistake but it’s everybody’s

Why don’t people admit to mistakes and other natural weaknesses in their character?

I notice that people are very leery about ‘fessing up to mistakes. It’s like they treat life as one continuous job interview and the slightest slip up will endanger their so-called progress, or at the very least, their shaky sense of inbred happiness. And people simply will not speak frankly of their shortcomings.

Nowhere is this dynamic more apparent than at my workplace. Not only do co-workers avoid direct admission of mistakes, but so do clients. It’s like everyone is walking on eggshells and today’s precarious economic climate has fostered a work force that guards its reputation with fanatic ass-covering devotion. Pople are so uptight and no one will ever just say, in the simplest manner possible, “I made a mistake.”

I do it all the time and I feel alienated for it. Too err is human, really, let’s keep that in mind. I want to tell everybody. Yell at everybody. The greatest reminder that we are not perfect lies in the fact that death is impending, old age, decrepitude (if we’re lucky) is inevitable, because our fleshy frame is imperfect. Imperfect people. An imperfect body makes for an imperfect mind. We make mistakes. We are mistakes. We are random happenstance. But I can excuse mistakes made in a sincere effort of conscientiousness. I despise mistakes made due to inattention or distraction with personal life matters or laziness. If you try your hardest and you make a mistake, you cannot be faulted. Admit it. But we live in a culture now that has little patience for errors in spite of what its many self-realizations advise us. Our culture rehearses the platitude that “nobody is perfect” but simultaneously punishes and ridicules the slightest miscues. Society tells us it does not demand perfection at the same time it implies the expectation of perfection from behind its velvet metadata curtain.

When people are scared, they act like duplicitous weasels. They will lie and spin and every other manner of surreptitious narration in order to disguise their mistakes right into invisible oblivion.

I admit freely when I make mistakes, especially at work. Hell, I joke about it, loudly and proudly. I do a fantastic job and I don’t make many mistakes, but I do make them. I’ve been at this job long enough that I can be snarky about my foibles openly, but I feel as if I’m alone in my vulnerable candor. Today, case in point. Yesterday I pointed out an error a customer made. I emailed her my observation and it took her a day to respond. She admitted that I was right but in the same breath blamed a systemic error on our (my company’s) part that confused her and led her astray. She would not just come out and say “You’re right, I was wrong.” Nope, it was “You’re right, but you guys did something wrong that made me make this mistake” so in effect saying, she didn’t really make a mistake. We made it. Not to single her out because this stuff is rampant.

Every one covers their ass and behaves as if they must meet the standards of a precision crafted motherboard. We strive to be gods but we are nothing but mottled flesh. You know what it is? I think we are simpering cowards. We are terrified of our own fallibility because we are so afraid of disappointing a world that doesn’t give a shit about us. We don’t admit imperfection because the institutional paradigm that chugs along, powering this consumerist, status-driven matrix, demands nothing less.

Instead of finding godliness in our imperfections, we find ungodliness in our cowardice. And we are left where we always were. Imperfect.