The Edmond Sun

March 15, 2013

AS I SEE IT: Finding compromise between man and machine

Marjorie Anderson
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Last week Hew Packard went down with a screech and the howl of a thousand flapping wings, and I railed for an hour at that dying printer/copy machine. How dare he leave me after all these years! Toward the end, after my threats and cajoling had failed, I tried appealing to his ego. “If you’ll just hang on long enough to get me through the tax season,” I purred in silvery tones, “I’ll write you a glowing obituary and publish it in the newspaper ... with a photo ... maybe even a poem.” But I was too late. Hew heaved a mighty sigh and succumbed. No consensus had been reached and no compromise. Nothing but the despair of my forced capitulation.

“Have it your way,” I growled as I grabbed up my purse and — with no remorse and certainly no obituary — left the house in search of Hew’s successor. Later, though, after Hew Jr. was up and running and I’d cooled down, I got to thinking about the elder abuse I’d been guilty of, and I regretted that Hew Sr. and I hadn’t agreed to compromise while there was still time.

Really. Why can’t we all just get along? Branches of government close their ears to any reason but their own while the nation hangs in limbo; talking heads snap at their guests and at each other; parents take sides and the children cower in confusion; churches turn jots and tittles into irreconcilable differences that divide congregations into schisms that test everyone’s faith

Surely we could co-exist without bordering on bloodshed, and compromise seems the best way. Not the kind that ends in capitulation for one side and all-out victory for the other, but the kind where each side gives up a little; where no consensus is ever actually reached, and where neither side is 100 percent satisfied with the outcome. Sorry. That’s the nature of compromise, but it still beats the alternative.

Consider Crayola’s 16-pack of crayons. Some are sharp and some are dull, and they come in all different personalities. Exotic Magenta wants to lord it over her less flamboyant sister Purple; brothers Black and Brown are puffed up with their own sense of entitlement; Primrose Pink doesn’t have the gumption to stand up for herself, and we all know what a problem brassy Red can be.

How could all those unique siblings live happily ever after crammed shoulder to shoulder in the same box? They couldn’t unless they agreed that compromise is essential if they hope to see another generation of little children color their world happy.

So that’s what they did, and so did Hew Jr. and I ... except that after we’d negotiated our compromise, I stapled it to his Living Will. If Hew Sr. taught me anything, it was to be prepared. Especially at tax time.

MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.