RESPONSIBILITY & ACCOUNTABILITY
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
7 February 2019
Patricia Jones thought of herself as a good person. She had grown up on the Upper East Side, attended Marymount School of New York, and for as long as she remembered, she knew she would do great things in this crazy world. She couldn’t define what great things or crazy world meant in any detail, but it was a truth she’d accepted long ago.
Saturday mornings in the Jones household were rarely predictable. The only thing Patricia knew for certain was that on Saturday she wouldn’t be heading out the door for school. She might be staying home with her nanny, running errands with her grandmother, or even going on a lavish family outing. She couldn’t tell if her parents’ spontaneity was a choice or if they didn’t think it was prudent to share the future plans with their pre-teenage daughter. But the unpredictability made her anxious and elated.
This particular Saturday, Patricia woke up to the sound of her cat screeching outside her bedroom door. As she laid silently in the darkness of her small bedroom, eyes-closed, pretending she was still sleeping, she prayed the cat would stop. She knew he wouldn’t. But why today? The only day she didn’t have to wake up in the blackness of early morning. She was convinced the cat hated her, had it in his mind to ruin her weekend. After 20 minutes of listening to the deafening distress, she flung herself out of bed, stomped loudly to her door, and threw it open.
Goober, the patchwork stray cat Patricia had taken in this past summer, was lying on his back with his favorite catnip mouse. That poor mouse must have died a thousand deaths while Goober audibly fantasized about his first meal of the day. At the first site of his beloved master, he sprung to his feet and his screeches turned into seductive moans. Patricia was up, now it was time to persuade her to fill his dish.
Patricia Jones was not sure who she was. In this moment, she wasn’t so sure she’d do great things. She looked at that cat with such disdain. She wanted to sleep, not wake up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday to feed him. She thought back to the day she got Goober and wished she hadn’t fought with her parents about keeping him. They told her it would be a lot of responsibility. But she had no idea responsibility meant waking up before the sun on weekends. She was just following her needs in that moment – her impulsive nature.
She wondered if her impulsivity was hereditary or if it was due to the pure delight she felt in those moments. As the cat’s purring gradually turned back into screams, she understood she wasn’t going back to sleep. The only way to get Goober to stop was to walk to the kitchen and feed him. So, she did. She told him about her week, and they played for more than an hour before the coffee pot ticked on. Minutes later, Dad walked in.
Responsibility, Accountability, Obligation
Call it what you want. We’ll never truly know what great things lie ahead, but we can make the incremental conscious choices to hold ourselves accountable. And that’ll build the character we’ll need to face future challenges. Patricia was blessed. During the time she spent alone with that cat on Saturday mornings, she built a bond. She learned to care about something more than herself.
She didn’t know it then, but she was already doing something great in this crazy world.