“Cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it.”

Sumner heard this item of folklore from her father, Henry Billingsley, who does not know where it originated.  He would use it often when Sumner was growing up (circa 1992), most commonly when she would whine or complain about an issue.

When Sumner would hear the proverb, she would instantly know that no complaining would be tolerated and that her father would not sympathize with her.  She interprets the proverb to mean that if she is experiencing a problem, she must recognize the problem, find a solution, and solve the problem.  You must not just sit there and whine about it, you must be proactive and actually do something.  My informant believes that this proverb is a humorous way to illustrate the steps it takes to overcome an issue.  The first step is recognition.  If the problem is not recognized, you will not be able to find a solution.  If you do not find a solution, you will never be able to overcome the problem.  To Sumner, “crying the river” is a sarcastic way implying that you can whine about the issue initially, but the substance of the proverb lies in “building the bridge and getting over it,” meaning that whining will not be tolerated for long, and something must be done.

This proverb is especially important to Sumner because it is part of what sculpted her character as a child.  Today she takes pride in the fact that she is pretty tough skinned and refuses to let things bother her enough to whine about them.  Now she even uses the proverb when appropriate.

This is a widespread saying that I heard most frequently when I was in high school.  My parents would not usually say it to me, but my friends would commonly use it.  I believe teenagers are the most typical audience because they are consumed with themselves and their own problems, never wanting to trouble themselves with anyone else’s problems.  It is a simple way to tell them to just get over it and stop complaining.  Additionally, I see a deeper meaning to the proverb.  The act of building a bridge signifies that in order to get over problems, work is involved.  You have to make a conscious decision to do what it takes to solve the recognized problem.  Also, because this proverb was so common, I have heard a truncated variation of it; “cry me a river.”  This was always said figuratively and sarcastically because the informant was not literally asking the recipient to cry or whine.  The rest of the saying was insinuated; the speaker was clearly implying for the other person to move on past their problem.