Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Failure's no success at all

In a particularly unfortunate hour at the front desk of my library I was repeatedly unable to track down books and movies for patrons. By all accounts they were supposed to be there; a movie checked in three weeks ago, then a requested book from the morning of the previous day. The patrons really wanted them and waited patiently and without complaint while I searched. I pulled out every trick in the book. I looked behind the rows of books in case it was shoved in back of them. I scanned deeply for misshelves in all the surrounding area. I looked on the carts they could have gone to if one error was made, and then if two. No luck, no luck at all. One lady's hold was not on the shelf anywhere, in order or out of it. I looked where it would be if we missed that it was on hold. Nope. I searched in the catalog. Ah, we have another copy that had been returned yesterday. I'll just get that instead. Three carts where that should have been later, and two where it shouldn't, and we didn't have that one either.

I sent them all on their way empty handed, they were undaunted and resolved to return later. Then I ruminated. And then I thought of a quote about failure. I just had time to write the quote on a post-it note, but not time to write anything more. Two days later I found my quote. Then, in the comfort of home, stalling in my writing of, well, this, I looked up quotes about failure to see where mine stood in the pantheon.

Samuel Beckett said:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

George Bernard Shaw said:

“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.”


"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

Well, they all looked a little "rah rah" for my poor quote, which goes like this:

"Success may not be all it's cracked up to be, but failure is never any fun."

Which brings me back to my account of not finding peoples' books. It can make one a little crazy when one looks so hard at my library for things that are supposed to be there but aren't. It made me question myself. But when I finished up at the desk I was off to shelve in non fiction, and it was a mess! Things were horribly shelved, stacked up, out of order. No wonder I couldn't find anything if I had co-workers bumbling around and shelving like this! This was actually kind of comforting. Or at least it was until I read a quote form the 19th Century Nature Essayist John Burroughs, who said:

“A man may fail many times but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”


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