In the mood for a little skepticism and acrimony on your Wednesday? Well, you've come to the right place! But wait for the ending. I'll have you back on the rainbow road in few paragraphs.
Is it just me or is the whole freaking world in a bad mood? And I'll admit that I'm no exception. Between work, household chores, family activities and volunteer work, my life is like a pressure cooker. It's hard not to let that kind of pace and stress negatively affect your attitude. And some people can't keep their personal stuff personal, so they present their life circumstances to you on a silver platter of sarcasm, impatience and crap.
We aren't used to this kind of animosity in the south. In Georgia, we are accustomed to everyone being, well, peachy. When we ask, "How are you today?", we don't really want to know how you are. We want you to do what you're supposed to do: smile and say, "I'm fine and how are you?" If you actually start telling us how you are, i.e., how you're two months behind on your mortgage or how you think your husband might be cheating, then we just won't know what to do with that. Don't be surprised if we don't pause, nervously scan the room, give you a half-smile and say, "Uh.... I'm fine?... and how are you?" It's called behavioral conditioning. Pavlov's Dog.
Recently I used my lunch hour to make a quick run to Lowe's for some plants. I seldom get a lunch minute let alone an hour these days, and I was using birthday gift cards from my good friend Tiff. Time out of the office + free plants = Amanda joy!
I spent about 30 minutes walking up and down the aisles in the Lawn and Garden section before deciding on my plants. I happily walked back to my car, looking forward to planting my new backyard additions.
Then I saw it. A torn piece of paper stuck to the driver's window of my car. It was a rude, handwritten note from somebody with poor penmanship and even worse grammatical skills telling me what a terrible job I did parking my SUV.
So I walked all the way around my car. It was sitting well within the lines and shouldn't have inconvenienced anyone parking next to me. And if Miss Parking Lot Police knew how bad I usually park, she would have left me a medal instead of a nastygram.
But still, it completely stole my Amanda joy!
On the way back to the office, I began thinking about the person who wrote that note. I wonder what is going on in her life to make her so angry? Why would she, for seemingly no real reason, attack a total stranger? Did she just lose her job? Is her marriage on the rocks?
It made me feel sad for her. I mean, here we are shopping on a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon. She should be enjoying this moment. She should be happy. But times are hard: economically, socially and physically. We all face daily hardships and we struggle with how to process them and absorb them.
You can't yell at your boss without risking losing your job. You can't cuss out your spouse without spending the night on the couch. Each action has an equal and opposite reaction. It's basic physics. But you can leave a note on somebody's car without much, if any, consequence. It's a way to get out some of your internal hostility without repercussion.
Or maybe there is. Something tells me that this individual didn't leave the Lowe's parking lot feeling like she was leaving the spa. I bet writing that note only made her feel more miserable. It only fuels the internal fire and pulls you deeper into the abyss.
So after giving somebody the bird on I-75, yelling at the Target cashier or leaving an angry note on a car window, NOW try dealing with your idiot boss or nagging spouse. What you thought would help you only makes things harder. And now, the interstate commuter, the Target cashier or the plant buyer has absorbed your stress into their already stressful lives. Where does all that stress go? And so it becomes cyclical...
So instead of that note robbing me of my Amanda joy, I said a little prayer for the lady who wrote it. I figure she needs somebody on her side... even if I can't park.