While responding to a comment that Artharaja left me a couple days ago, I found myself reminded of a small exchange from the movie “Mary Poppins” that I’ve always loved. It’s a brief exchange between Mary and the children’s father which I believe comes shortly after the whole scene with the chimney sweeps. After the children run upstairs, the father begins to get quite agitated and demands that the nanny explain herself. After listening to him, Mary responds by saying, “Well, the first thing that you need to understand is that I never explain myself.” Upon uttering these words, she trots up the stairs after the children.
What makes this scene so great, and clearly demonstrates that Julie Andrews is an acting goddess, is the delivery of that single line. The first part of the statement (that which I didn’t italicize) is spoken with a calm, almost conciliatory tone. However, once the nanny begins the second portion of her statement (the italicized portion), her tone undergoes a transformation into something that clearly tells the father, “You may pay my salary, but do not make the mistake of thinking you’re my boss.” Mary’s entire response and the delivery of that response makes it clear that this is a subject that will tolerate no debate. It’s an attitude that I can completely appreciate in many situations.
Of course, Mary Poppins has the distinct advantage of living in a film world that caters to her every whim. The father must continue to sign her paychecks simply because the script says he must. Should I choose to take such an approach with my own employer, I could find myself collecting unemployment in the near future. And despite the fact that I am likely able to gain a great deal of leeway with my employer due to being a great employee, I have no delusions that I’m the superman that Mary Poppins is (diary name aside).
And yet, there are those areas in my life in which I can get away with such an attitude. A good number of my friends are willing to put up with a certain amount of obstinance on my part simply because they know that I’m a good friend. (Of course, it helps that I don’t abuse the privelege as a rule.) And in those social situations where such an attitude might cost me something, I’m in a position where I can actually choose to accept the loss. Like Mary, I can simply say my peace and walk away. The trick is making sure I’m prepared to walk away and can live with that choice.