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Mr. Peabody & Sherman

The one thing you can count on in a children’s animated movie is that it was made by adults. And when something is made from adults who want to send a message, there can be many little pearls of wisdom for the taking.

The one thing you can count on in a children’s animated movie is that it was made by adults.  Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a take from the Bullwinkle series, and features a super intelligent dog and his adopted son Sherman.   The main story-line of Mr. Peabody is that he had invented a time machine, which had the ability to take its navigators through any time in the past.   Commence suspending disbelief!   Without giving anything crucial away from the story, I can tell you a main part of the plot and still give you lots of room to use your imagination for the rest.

Unlike a movie critic, I want to specifically speak about a crucial moment in the movie that inspired my post tonight.   Young Sherman finds himself at the hands of a (egads!) female bully.   As most intelligent dogs do, Mr. Peabody invited the girl, and her parents over to their house to get to know each other.   The movie then takes a harried turn, and the rest of the movie is a rollercoaster ride of time travel and intentional meetings with famous people throughout modern history.  By that time though, Mr. Peabody had charmed, impressed, and thoroughly entertained the girl’s parents to the point of a lifetime friendship.   Sherman, in the meantime, was showing the young girl who he really was, and through some challenges the two eventually learned to appreciate one another.

It was a rather subtle inference to the power of taking personal responsibility for our disagreements and doing our best to set them straight, however that may look.   It reminded me of a miraculous 24 hours that I was fortunate enough to witness.   Last night I got a call from Steve (not his real name) which was quite odd because it had been so long since I talked to Steve I couldn’t remember who he was.   Turned out I had never spoke to him on the phone before but had arranged, through text, a washing machine repair.   Somehow he felt I was the person to call about his problems.

I remember a time not too long ago when I would angrily remind the person that they, as a resident, must go through their owner for any problems and that those owners in turn must speak with the Property Manager to get their concerns addressed.   Instead, I chose to listen to him.   He was telling me that he had a neighbour who was playing his music so loud at all hours that it was starting to affect his mental health.

Steve shared with me that once he complained to the concierge about it, who then promptly came up to the neighbour’s suite, and requested he turn down the music.   I assume he told the gentleman it was his neighbour in turn that complained; the neighbour then proceeded to come out on his balcony and yell the most awful obscenities at his neighbour to the point that Steve was actually afraid.

I got all the story straight with him by asking him all the questions that one would ask to understand the full back-and-forth.  I then began to explain to him what he could consider doing, and that it might not be easy, but it will be simple.   He needed to go to his neighbour, knock on his door, apologize for going through the concierge last time, and share with him how the music affects his ability to get up at 5am for work.

Steve promptly told me he couldn’t do that because his neighbour is 6’2 and seems dangerous.    Here’s where most Property Managers, in fear of liability, shut their mouth, and send a $250 bylaw fine to the owner of the neighbour.   This has also serious implications for the relationships involved but I will save that for yet another conversation!

After Steve told me that he would do it if he had a recorder, and some sort of weapon on him, including a phone to call the police.   Standard procedure for most of us I would imagine.   I then proceeded to explain to Steve who he must be for this to work.   Despite my fears of getting too philosophical and losing him, I trudged on with painting him a picture.   I said that he cannot go there with a negative intention in his mind and body because his neighbour will sense that and react.   Instead, go there with a smile on your face, and make sure your body language is inviting and not confrontational.   Knock on that door, tell him that you have to get up at 5 am, and that the music really affects your ability to enjoy your suite.

Steve said he would do it.   I said goodbye and let it go, without knowing what would happen but knowing in my heart of hearts that it couldn’t get worse.   I went about my day at work today and was pleased with the connections I made with workmates and residents alike.   Towards the end of the work day, I was in the concierge office and heard an argument going on and decided to come out to investigate.   A gentleman was complaining about the attitude the concierge was giving him, and there was an argument between them.  Another gentleman was leaning on the desk and sheepishly looking like “please make it stop”.   He instead said “Jason, it worked”.

I said “you must be Steve”.   He said “Yeah!”   I asked him what happened.   He said “the music started again, I felt so nervous I thought I was going to get sick but I went out to the door and knocked.   He came out and said “the music is too loud isn’t it?”   Steve said he didn’t say a word, and just nodded his head.   The neighbour said “sorry man, I’ll turn it down.”

I got the power of personal responsibility for Steve, his neighbour, and even me.   And I got the power of a dog named Mr. Peabody to change the world one human at a time.