What’s the worst thing you’ve ever smelled?
A kid’s diaper that’s been left to stew? My feet after a week stuck inside trail boots? A newly lanced, cottage cheese filled cyst? A dead rat? A Bernie Sanders speech?
Whatever it may be for you, that is what an excuse from men is to the nostrils of men.
As a child, marked by immaturity, I was uncertain as to the difference between a reason and an excuse. Now, as a man, not free from immaturity but certainly haunted by a lesser amount, the difference is plain. An excuse is a specific kind of reason, offered by someone when he has failed in some way with the goal of lessening personal responsibility.
Excuses find a natural home in the hearts of sinful men. The very first thing to cross Adam’s sinful lips when speaking to God was an ugly excuse. He set the tone that has been carried forth into the world ever since.
Excuses are especially repugnant from men. Why? The essence of manhood is the glad assumption of responsibility for the good of others. An excuse shows a man’s inability not just to assume responsibility for others, but for himself as well.
An excuse is the song of good-for-nothing.
“I will not own responsibility for myself. I will not own responsibility for you. My goal in life is to be a waster.”
Excuse-making is a strong temptation. When we fail, we don’t want the heat. We don’t want it to be obvious how good at failing we are. An excuse seems like such an easy out. But excuses don’t pay off.
Excuses are verbal acts of castration.
My brother used to be a furniture delivery man. He worked for the best company and best bosses, and got to work with some of the best men in town.
He failed at his job a good number of times.
On his first day driving a 26-foot box truck, he took out a lady’s roadside tree. He subsequently loaded it into his truck and dumped it at a nearby park.
When picking up a baseboard with drawers, on the back of the truck, in the customer’s driveway, he tilted it and let all the drawers fall out and bust up.
On a two-man truck, he drove two hours from the warehouse into the next state to make a bedroom set delivery. The customer ordered a king-sized bed. He packed the entire bedroom set and bed, but loaded a queen-sized headboard. He didn’t realize his error until he was at the customer’s house. So he had to drive back two hours, meet his boss to get the right headboard, drive back two hours, assemble the bedroom, and then return to the warehouse…another two hours. That is a colossal waste of company cash. Somehow he kept his job.
Then there was the time he packed the wrong sofa section for a living room delivery. It was the last delivery of the day. Another team that had finished early met him at the customer’s house so that they could all get home on time. It was only then that they realized my brother had ruined it. That team left and the boss had to come out with a truck and the right sofa section.
When everyone got back to the warehouse to close up shop, it was an hour over time. At a warehouse with so many workers and moving parts, my brother knew there was an opportunity to at least shift some of the blame off himself for inconveniencing multiple teams and a customer.
But, Preston Burchard and James Shelor had trained him right. Jon Burchard had trained him right. He was a man, and knew it would be less honorable to try to get off the hook by making an excuse than to take the full hit.
So, he looked his boss in the eye. He told him that he was fully responsible for the end of the day. He asked to be docked pay for the error, since it had cost the company time and resources.
If I’d been in his bosses shoes, and my employee had made me late getting home to my family, and then dumped responsibility on everyone and everything but himself, I’d have fired him. That kind of employee isn’t reliable. He isn’t trustworthy.
But my brother had owned it all and offered to take the hit. So, what did the boss do? He held his gaze for a moment, said he’d get paid for all the time my brother was on the job, and told him to not let it happen again. Handshakes were exchanged, and everyone went home.
Responsibility was taken and recognized. Manliness was honored.
Don’t sing the song of the good-for-nothing’s. Don’t castrate yourself. Don’t dance like a greasy weasel.
Don’t make excuses.