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“I can’t find my mobile phone, and I am going to be out of the house for three hours this afternoon so if anyone needs to get hold of me, you can try at x place from this o’clock, Y place from that o’clock, or z place from the other o’clock.”   Posted on Facebook. 

It’s a cultural thing.  I understand every one of those words written here, but for the life of me I cannot get my head around the culture of the person who would feel the need to post this. 

Is there something significant going down at their end?  Possibly.  But if it was me, and it was seriously major, I would be in the location of the seriously major thing.  If it was a jump or two lower than seriously major, or if I had no option but to leave for a bit, I would have made sure that the key people would have a proper way of contacting me; borrowed cell phone possibly, and I would share that data privately with those named people. 

Apart from that, the “if anyone…” phrase seems to suggests less a specific crisis than that this person feels a general and on-going need to be available, whenever and for whatever.  So I wonder how far is this writer truly indispensible?  How much of their world might be in danger of collapse as a result of their three hour absence?

If we disregard the possibility that the person may simply hold narcissistic delusions of their own importance, then we are left facing the serious notion that rendering this person incommunicado for three hours really might result in disastrous consequences.  Heck I feel sorry for them already, that’s a huge responsibility that I can’t even take three hours without the universe going to pot around me. 

When I was nineteen, an anonymous someone posted a note on the door of the place where I was working.  It said “Graveyards are full of indispensible people”.  Since then, I’ve come to consider that becoming indispensible is the point where selfishness disguises itself as saintliness.  If my absence of three hours would be enough to induce a potential crisis in those around me, then I probably need to stop and take responsibility for the devastation I would cause if I got run over on the way home and found myself in intensive care for six weeks (or worse).  Yes, it’s great to be needed.  We all need that.  But if my need to be needed is such that my absence would irrevocably cripple someone else’s ability to get on with their life, then I need to stop blocking out the light.  Make some contingency plans, train up a substitute, start bringing through my potential replacements, step back and let others take the applause. 

I know this poor un-consulted Facebook poster, whose post I have taken in vain, hasn’t asked for my advice, but as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, it would be this: The role of centre of the universe is already eternally occupied.  So chill out and have a beer… when you’ve found your phone. 

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