In 1972 one of the all time great songs was written, recorded, and released by Bill Withers. Lean on me.
One morning around the office I was telling a couple of the male staff members of, once again, someone we have tried to help over and over was going off the wagon and blaming us for his decision. This was about the 5th or 6th time for this person. Each time it has followed a very familiar pattern. He gets ready to go back to his old way of living but before he does he finds something to accuse us of. In this way he is able to blame his relapse on us. Eventually he will get to the bottom and come back. We have always taken him back in and started all over again to help him to get his life together.
Well this being about the 5th or 6th time he had done this in the past few years I made a decision. I announced it to my staff. If he walks away this time, then everyone tell him that when he is living under a bridge, don’t come back to us. He needs to find someplace else to go for help because obviously we have not been able to help him. I said, “He has peed on me one time too many!”
For some reason that statement brought Bill Wither’s song to mind and I began to sing it,
with slight variations.
“Pee on me, when your not strong and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on…
Chorus—“You just Pee on me brother, whenever you can, we all want somebody to pee on!”
It’s so true and so sad that we all began to laugh. Not at him but at the situation and how many times we have gone to hell and back with someone and they just ended up “Peeing on us.”
All of this then brought to my memory the story of a gorilla in the zoo. In the town where I went to college they had a zoo. For a time the favorite animal in the zoo was a big gorilla. Everyone loved to visit the gorilla. At least until he developed the nasty habit, whenever the mood struck him, of peeing in his hand and throwing it on the people!
No one knew why he did it, when he was going to do it, or at whom he was going to throw it. It just became known that if you went to the gorilla cage you might get wet! People began to stay away. The zoo had to do something. Obviously, a gorilla peeing on the patrons wasn’t good for business.
They tried to give him to another zoo but no zoo wanted an ape with an attitude!
They couldn’t turn him loose into the wild because he had lived his entire life in captivity. As I remember it, they finally resorted to the final solution. They had him “put to sleep.”
The moral to the story? Pee on me once shame on you. Pee on me twice shame on me!
Pee on me over and over and eventually I have to set a boundary. Eventually you may just pee on me enough times that I figure out you don’t really want someone to “lean on” you just want someone to “pee on!”
That’s when I will finally say, “O.K. enough is enough! I’m not going to be your toilet anymore! Find someone else to pee on for a change.
Remember that folks the next time you get ready to pee on people who have sought to help you. People might just have to resort to the “final solution” and set a boundary in their lives that says, “Nobody wants to hang out with a gorilla who is going to pee on them,” I’m outta here. If you want to “lean on me” I’m here. If you want to “pee on me I’m done.”