You know how people are just annoying?
Of course they are, because we exist in a world that circles around ourselves. Not you, me. So when I don't get my way, or people don't act the way I want them to act or do things how I want them to do things at that precise moment of time, I'm annoyed.
Sounds familiar, right? No worries, it's all good. There's no shame in admitting this. It's the natural way of life. To hear an excellent speech surrounding this idea, check out David Foster Wallace's This is Water.
To continue in this vain of general people aggravation, a few weeks back I was waiting in the 10 items or less line at Market Basket (I try desperately to stick to 10 items or less because this place is always a madhouse).
There was a man in front of me ranting to the woman behind the checkout counter. He sounded Russian. It seemed as though there was confusion about his EBT card he was using, and he was getting flustered and angry.
I watched as the woman behind the counter rolled her eyes and give a half sarcastic smile as if to say "ok dude, just pay and get out of my hair, it's only 9am I have 6 more hours in this hell hole".
The last thing I heard the man mutter was, "see, this is why your country is going down the tubes."
Well that just pissed me right off. I could feel myself get immediately defensive for my country. A country where I have many freedoms and live a great life. Really Mr. Russia?
I kept my mouth shut but started thinking of the list of items I wanted to share with this ignorant man using our federal entitlement system and bitching about our country, which would include all the reasons why his country sucks more than mine does.
But I didn't of course. I paid for my 10 items and quietly headed to the ATM vestibule next door to deposit some money into my personal account as well as a check into my business account.
I used my card to enter the vestibule and as I started to put my debit card in the machine I heard the door click open again behind me.
I glanced behind me and guess who it was? Mr. I hate America.
Great. I reviewed my mental list again in my head, and reminded myself how old this guy was. If he decided to put up a fight, I could take him no problem.
I finished my personal deposit and he stood quietly waiting for me. I couldn't believe I had to stand in an ATM vestibule with this man, yet as I took my receipt, I turned around and told him I had one more transaction to make, but he could go ahead of me so he wouldn't have to wait. (Don't you hate those people that feel entitled to make 8 different transactions with 5 different cards in succession with a giant line behind them? It's plain rude!)
He politely waved his hand and said, “go right ahead, finish what you have to, I don't mind.”
I smiled and thanked him, reapproaching the machine. I smiled again engagingly and told him I had to now deposit money into my business account. Maybe this would give him a glimmer of hope about our country going down the tubes - a normal young looking woman like myself, owning her own business.
He replied with a chuckle, “not a terrible thing, huh?!”
“Nope!” I smiled enthusiastically.
“So, you own a business? What kind of business?”
“I co-own a cleaning company here in Salem, I said.”
“Oh, wow, that's great.”
The old man continued to ask a few follow up questions about the business, seemingly very interested. I finished my final transaction, told him to have a nice day and we parted ways.
I share this story as it provides a few lessons:
1. Be mindful of your judgements.
So I heard this guy say something in the supermarket that I thought was inaccurate, especially based on the context in which he was talking. Due to that, I felt hatred. Yet we ended up having a pleasant conversation later on, one which made me feel respected and proud to be a business owner. Those feelings occurred in me as a result of his interest, tone and seemingly positive perception of me. Listen, I've heard my grandma mutter that gay people ruin everything. But I don't hate her for it. She's old and outdated with such topics like gay marriage and homosexuality. Yet it was easy for me to hate the man who was frustrated for whatever reason with a transaction and muttered a vague judgement about this country. I still don't agree with the statements made by the old man at the checkout counter or my grandma. But do I have to let it be the reason for scorn and hatred to enter my thoughts? Really, if you haven't listened to David Foster Wallace's speech, you really should.
2. Never let a stranger ruin your day.
The only person or thing you should allow to ruin your day is you. If you can't handle that, at least let it be someone you know really well. Otherwise, move through life happily and don't get caught up in the other bullshit, because even if you think you know what's going on, you have no context.
So next time you're annoyed at the checkout counter, think about what's really bothering you. Get some perspective and move on and focus on what matters most to you.
I'm Kim. I like to work hard but not enough to stop having fun and enjoying life. I hope I never stop learning and exploring. Other people inspire me to be and do better every day. Read on for reflections on work and play.