Globe Syndicate

for release Friday December 12, 2003

Another Way

by Melodie Davis

The Gifts of Others

One woman was having a hernia procedure done as an outpatient. First her case was delayed by three hours because someone needed an emergency kidney operation, but instead of stewing and worrying, she was mildly amused by the type A surgeon who was miffed because another surgeon had power-played him out of “his” surgery slot.

Then, the nurse pushing her to surgery paused to scan a job vacancy notice on the bulletin board, and referred to the woman as an “it” as she lay there vulnerable on the gurney. Finally the anesthesiologist was getting ready to put her under when his cell phone rang and he left the surgery suite. I’m not picking on medical people. This true story could have happened in any workplace with different specifics.

But this patient, instead of demanding her rights as a customer or privately fuming, laughed it off. She was just ecstatic when she woke up because they were able to do the procedure by arthroscopy instead of surgery saving her weeks of recovery and therapy (from Jean Marie Laskas’ Nov. 9, 2003 Washington Post Magazine column).

What kind of woman can look at all these frustrating experiences and be so laid back? Probably a super type B personality.

I was thinking one day about how essential it is to have variety in this world. If everyone was a type A personality—high strung, over-achieving, competitive, barely knows how to relax, aggressive, clock watcher—what an anxious world this would be. On the other hand, if everyone was type B—laid back, leaving important things to chance, uncompetitive, chronically late, and a doormat, that’s not good either.

Are you one of those persons who has to have everything figured out ahead of time, and know how and when something is going to happen? Or are you one who is satisfied to have a general idea of plan, leaving things to chance and opportunity, feeling that stuff usually works out in the end. Why borrow trouble? You are relaxed, uncompetitive, and maybe inclined to introspection and self-analysis. This kind of person does well at taking the heat—because they refuse to allow heat to make them hot.

On the other hand, what would we do without the extreme type A’s—creative achievers who get a lot done and make sure others do their jobs right and on time. They ask the who, what, when and where questions—and worry less about pondering the eternal whys.

One day I was driving to town and watched the falling leaves scatter. We talk about each snowflake being different: I’m guessing that no one has ever found identical leaves, identical flowers, or even real identical twins. All of this is a reminder of how God loves variety: different colors, shapes, sizes, languages!

Think about your office, school or workplace setting: how well do the gifts of one complement those of another? Where a workplace gets into trouble is if it is filled with exactly all the same type of individuals (maybe part of why so many dot coms went under so fast). A workplace with all the same types probably doesn’t actually happen very often, given the terrific variety of individuals there are in the world. By planning or happenstance, as gifts and tendencies are exercised, people become more A or more B, depending on the situation. When no one else is taking leadership, I can step forward and be assertive, but that is not a natural role I choose.

On a quick online survey regarding type A and type B, ( I was not too surprised to discover that I am a blend or mix between the extremes of both these parts. This is an analysis that has been frequently echoed by others over many years.

Long ago, St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the people of Corinth, Greece, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” He notes that if the foot were to say, well, I’m not as important as a hand, so they don’t need me, that would be ludicrous. In the same way each and every person offers different gifts, perspectives and personality. After I took the test, I went back through and answered the questions as though my husband were answering, and was surprised to find that he (at least my perception of him) is a blend of types too, but leaning more towards A and me more towards B. In life there is an infinite combination of personality types—many more than the 30 different number assignments given by the test makers!

This is good to think about this time of year: if you are frustrated by not having money or time to give the gifts you’d like, think about the gifts that others bring to your life, and thank them for that in a card or e-mail.

For your free Christmas gift from Another Way, write for our calendar. Send to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail:

You can also visit Another Way on the Web at

Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.

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