I flew to Nashville two weeks ago to see my sister graduate as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I was very excited as we entered Tennessee State University for the Hooding Ceremony. I had been looking forward to this celebration for months. Then something happened that irked me as a person and a professional organizer.

I was with my mom who is handicapped from a previous stroke. She can walk but very slowly with a cane and a serious limp. When we entered the gym with all the hundreds of other people I quickly scanned the seating arrangements. I could tell that the graduates would be in chairs on the wooden floor and guests were to be seated in the bleachers (already pretty full). We were a party of 5 including my mother. Of course she was going to need to sit on one of the bleacher sections closest to the floor. She physically would not be able to climb into the stands. There didn’t look to be one open seat for her. I could feel the stress sinking in as we all realized this might be a problem. Then I noticed what I did compared to the rest of my group. I heard the others start to moan and groan. I immediately took action.

I went up to two men in blue uniforms who looked as though they should be of some assistance. I asked them where the handicapped section was and they looked bewildered with my question and scanned the room for a robed woman who appeared to be the event coordinator. They said they did not know and nodded that I should ask this woman they pointed out. When I did so she curtly said they hadn’t thought about this request and there was nothing she could do.

I wanted to play the blame game. How could a college organize a graduation ceremony of this size every year and not consider the elderly and folks with special needs? I wanted to really express my dissatisfaction with the lack of foresight but the bottom line was their poor planning was spilling into what I wanted to be a fantastic memory for my mother, my sisters and my daughter whom I was traveling with. 


So in my usual assertive, proactive and problem-solving mindset (attitude), I thought to myself, instead of complaining I’m going to go find (action) a chair or ask a janitor-whatever it takes. In the meanwhile my mom’s boyfriend was trying to see if someone would graciously give up his/her seat for my mom but with no positive results.

As I was heading back to the corridor I spied a cushion chair (lucky day or the universe rewards action?) between two doors and decided to claim it. I carried it back to a section of bleachers where the other four of us could be in the stands but still be close to my mom who was now comfortably seated near her children for the next two hours (goal).

I realized there are three elements to help rectify a situation when one wants to play the Blame Game of Disorganization:

  1. Adjust Your Attitude
  2. Take Action  
  3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize  

There were many times during this event when I wondered how come nobody thought of this and someone didn’t think to do that? Even down to the fact that you couldn’t hear the keynote speaker because the sound equipment was not set up properly.

But in life, we all deal with other people’s disorganization and it would be A Shame to Blame if we have the capacity to organize even just our own situation. So follow the three bullets above when you find yourself in similar situations dealing with other people’s lack of preparedness.