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挽回面子的艺术

发布者: katy | 发布时间: 2009-12-29 14:59| 查看数: 1717| 评论数: 1|

As a child, I was in the public library every Saturday. And every week, I checked out the same book, year after year. Up I would walk, put that dog-eared1) book in the return slot, and stand very still until Ruth Setzer, one of the librarians, checked it in. Without a word, she would extend her arm to me, with my treasure at the end of it. I would run back to the children’s section until Mama was ready to go. Then I would check it out again and take it back home, where it obviously belonged.

  One Saturday, Mrs. Barnett, the head librarian, summoned me to the circulation desk, a formidable walnut fortress. The other librarians gathered around as she handed me a package. “Now,”she said sweetly, handing me my own copy of the book, “we hope you might leave the library’s ‘Adventures of Pippi Longstocking?here so other children might read it.”



  When I turned 15, Mrs. Barnett offered me a job working at the circulation desk, that great ship I had hovered in front of every Saturday for years. Ecstatic to be among all those books, I can still hear the sound of the book-cart wheels as I rolled through the stacks, lost in that magical world.



  One morning that quiet magic was shattered when an irate woman slammed shut a card catalog drawer and stomped2) to the desk.





  “I cannot believe,” she fairly hissed3), “that this library doesn’t have any books about psychology! It’s an outrage! How dare you call yourselves a library.” Being the only one at the helm4) at that moment, it was up to me to respond.





  Timidly, I did. “I know I’re shelved psychology books before,” I began.

  “Really?” she interrupted, “there’s none in the card catalog. Zero! Ridiculous! Aren’t there any grown-ups who work here?”

  “They're in a meeting right now,” I whispered, scared. “But I’ll help if I can.”

  She stomped back to the card catalog, with me trailing meekly behind as Pippi never would have. “Where were you looking?” I asked.

  “Well, young lady, where on earth do you think I was looking?” she answered as she flung5) open a card drawer.

  The drawer she had opened was the “S” drawer.

  “Well,” I answered quietly, “perhaps we should try the alternate spelling.” And I gently moved her to the P drawer.

  It was a moment of real clarity for me: Helping her save face and retain her dignity as a human being was important, even though (and perhaps especially because) she had been berating me.

  Decades later, I was in line at Giant Foods watching a woman buy eight items, including a package of the cheapest, fattiest meat imaginable. As the cashier rang up6) her items, the woman asked repeatedly for the subtotal, digging into her change purse and realizing as the meat made its journey up the conveyer belt that she could never afford it. She lacked $1.07, and with the saddest eyes I had ever seen, told the cashier to put it back.

  I couldn’t bear it. “Excuse me, ma”Im,” I said as I bent down between my cart and the chewing gum display. “You must have dropped this.” As I handed her a $5 bill from my own pocket, pretending I had found it on the floor, she refused it at first.

  “Oh, no,” she said quietly, “it can’t be mine.”

  “Well, it’s not mine either, so it’s your lucky day!” I replied, extending my hand.

  In that moment, I realized that my learning about saving face had started years before in that library. Rather than enforce their rule about how many consecutive7) weeks a book could be checked out, the librarians had helped me save face by giving me my own copy of “Pippi Longstocking.” And while standing in that grocery store line, I recognized that saving face is an important concept.

  Helping someone save face involves giving them a way to exit the situation with their dignity intact. It involves creativity, patience, and sometimes looking the other way. And it puts the impulse on giving, where it should be.





小时候,我每周六都呆在公共图书馆里看书。每一周我都会借出同一本书,年复一年,周而复始。我会走上前去,把那本书角都卷起来的书放到还书口,然后静静地站着等,直到露丝·塞茨尔——图书管理员之一,把书检查、收回,一言不发地再伸手把书递给我。我会跑回儿童区,直到妈妈打算离开。然后我再把那本书借出带回家,很明显我的家才是真正属于它的地方。

  有一个周六,图书馆馆长巴尼特女士把我叫到借书台,庄严的胡桃木制成的借书台像一座堡垒。她递给我一个包裹时,其他图书管理员也围拢了过来。“好吧,”她一边温柔地说着话,一边把真正属于我的书递给我,“我们希望你能把图书馆的《长袜子皮皮历险记》留给其他孩子,让他们也能读。”


  我15岁时,巴尼特女士给了我一个在图书馆借书台工作的机会,也就是我多年以来每个周六都流连忘返的地方。身居书的海洋之中令我狂喜不已,我依旧能听到自己推着手推车走过一堆堆书时车轮发出的声音,我深深地沉醉于那个神秘的世界。

  一天上午,那神秘世界的寂静被一个气呼呼的女子用力关卡片抽屉的声音和跺脚声打破了,她冲到了借书台前。

  “我简直不敢相信,”她生气地低声说,“这个图书馆居然没有关于心理学的图书!太可恶了!你们居然敢叫图书馆!”由于我是当时惟一当班的人,我得说点什么。

  我有点胆怯地开始说道:“我知道我就码放过心理学的书籍。”

  “是吗?”她打断了我,“卡片上一本也没有。没有!太可笑了!这里难道没有成年人上班吗?”

  “他们都在开会,”我小声地说,心里很害怕,“不过可以的话我很乐意帮忙。”

  她跺着脚回到卡片柜,我温顺地跟在她身后,就像“皮皮”从来都不曾做过那样。“你在哪里找的?”我问。

  “嗯,小姑娘,你觉得我在哪里找的呢?”她一边说一边猛地拉开了一个卡片抽屉。

  她拉开的那个是“S” 抽屉。

  “嗯,”我悄悄地说,“也许我们应该试试不同的拼写。”然后我轻轻地把她领到了“P”抽屉旁。

  那个时刻我真正明白了,帮助她挽回面子维持尊严非常重要,甚至(也许特别因为)在她斥责过我以后。

  几十年过去了,我站在Giant Foods商店的收银台旁等着付钱,看到一个妇女买了8件物品,包括一包你所能想象到的最便宜的肥肉。当收银员计费时,妇女一边不停地问总计多少钱,一边在她的零钱包里摸索着,当那块肉到了收款台前的传送带上,她意识到她无论如何都买不起。她还差1.07美元,她告诉收银员把肉放回去,那一刻我看到了世界上最悲伤的眼睛。

  我看不下去了。“打扰一下,女士,”我一边说,一边在我的手推车和口香糖货架之间弯下腰去。“一定是你掉的钱。”我把从自己口袋里掏出的5美元递给她,假装是从地上捡到的。她马上拒绝了。

  “噢,不是的,”她轻声说,“不是我的。”

  “好吧,不过也不是我的,所以你今天很幸运!”我回答道,把钱递了过去。

  在那一刻,我认识到挽回别人面子的知识是多年以前从图书馆学到的。他们没有强调他们的规矩是一本书最多可以续借多少周,却通过送给我一本《长袜子皮皮》帮助我挽回了面子。当我站在食品店排队付款时,我认识到挽回面子是一个重要的概念。

  帮助别人挽回面子,意味着给他们一条路子摆脱困境,同时使他们尊严无损。这需要创造力、耐心,有时还需要另辟蹊径。此外,它以“给予”为驱动力,这也正是它的意义所在。


最新评论

zykenglish 发表于 2009-12-29 22:28:00
Helping someone save face involves giving them a way to exit the situation with their dignity intact. It involves creativity, patience, and sometimes looking the other way. And it puts the impulse on giving, where it should be. 帮助别人挽回面子,意味着给他们一条路子摆脱困境,同时使他们尊严无损。这需要创造力、耐心,有时还需要另辟蹊径。此外,它以“给予”为驱动力,这也正是它的意义所在。

quite rihgt! 做人要厚道!
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