Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone came with handling instructions?
Here’s what I mean. I was looking for an appropriate indoor plant for my office. I knew I should get something hardy like a Pathos Ivy, but I gravitated towards the more exotic Majesty Palm. I looked at the care instructions:
Pathos Ivy — Popular plant because it is very hardy and requires little care. It is also attractively leafy and efficient at removing indoor pollutants. Given suitable support, it can reach a height of two meters or more.
I had one of those ivies in college: I’d go home for a month at Christmas, completely forgetting about my poor plant, and return to the dorm feeling horribly guilty at its wilted, droopy condition. But one or two waterings later it was as good as new.
Now, the more high-maintenance Majesty Palm:
Majesty Palm — Can have high need for nutrition and water. Yellows out when nutritionally starved. Likes rich soil and good drainage. Needs full sun. Can tolerate part day sun, but not a shade plant.
Researching the Majesty Palm I came across this warning on a plant FAQ website: “Unless you have a greenhouse, the Majesty Palm probably isn’t the right plant for you.”
It got me thinking. I know people like that Majesty Palm — high maintenance individuals who seem to “yellow out” when they don’t get enough attention or aren’t in the limelight. I know people like the Pathos Ivy, too — good-natured folks who blend in so well with their environment that you may hardly notice them, but all the while they are “removing indoor pollutants” from the room.
If you were a plant, what would your care and handling instructions be? I know what I would want mine to read. It would be something like this:
“This plant is hardy and requires little care. It can survive in a variety of conditions. It requires minimal water but abundant sunshine. Given suitable support, it can reach incredible heights. It is also attractively leafy.”
We don’t need green thumbs to handle our friends and colleagues. One person thrives given a few kind words or a pat on the back, another needs to be “heard out” in order to vent frustration, while another person’s day can be brightened by a friendly smile. Short of handling instructions, a little sensitivity to the fact that we are all different and require different levels of attention and care goes a long, long way.
Epilogue: I went with the Palm; it died within three months.