On modelling myself after Tami Taylor

Fact: I was a late hire for the ResLife team, so my interview was in May of last year, rather than February. It was right around the time that I started watching the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights.

I decided early on in the hiring process that if I were to be hired, I wanted to be the kind of mentor that Tami Taylor was to everyone in Dillon. Tami is everything I want to be when I grow up: strong, devoted to her family, full of life, always gracious and willing to help, and never, ever a pushover. It didn’t matter what situation she was dealing with, whether it was counselling a pregnant teenager or telling Tim Riggins what’s what, she always seemed to do or say the right thing. She perfected the art of slipping what she really wanted to say casually into the conversation — under a thick layer of sweet smiles and a few well-placed “y’all’s”. Above all, she was unfailingly polite and rarely lost her temper.

Some of my favourite scenes are the ones in which Tami is dealing with someone who is trying to walk all over her. This happens a lot when I’m on rounds. Residents will get caught with beer bottles or playing drinking games, and then try to intimidate RLS into leaving. (This happens almost exclusively when alcohol is involved). I’m in this situation, I try to channel my inner Tami.  When I’m in a tough spot, I remind myself to keep smiling and focus on my end goal, whether it’s getting a name, a bottle, or a ping-pong ball. It can be difficult not to take things personally when residents are swearing or being rude, but keeping up that smile works wonders at getting them to give up, or, even better, apologize.

I definitely don’t always succeed in emulating Ms. Taylor. She has a capability for empathy and diplomacy that I’m still trying to develop. But there are some things I know we have in common. I’m able to admit when I’m wrong, and I’m fiercely protective of my residents.

And I can’t wait for spring to start wearing my cowboy boots with everything!


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