Friday, December 24, 2010
Ho Ho Hope for the Holidays
So today everyone is running around with last minute errands and cooking and shopping. Nerves are a tad frayed on all fronts. So this is Christmas, to quote John Lennon.
I zipped over to the local grocery store to grab the last few items I need, and it too was filled with short-tempered, rushed shoppers banging their carts into each other, snatching up items and flinging them in their carts as the "festive" music droned on in the background (which only serves to increase everyone's frustration levels, if you ask me. But no one does.)
So there was this man - quite short and incongruously dressed in a Indiana Jones fedora and floor-length raincoat which billowed out behind him - who was "helping" his wife. It became apparent that he was a bully most of the time, judging from the way he browbeat her. I ignored them, but at one point, as happens in a grocery store, they blocked my way in an aisle - their cart was directly in front of me and a movable display case was beside it. So I just waited, as I'm wont to do, and stood several feet behind their cart as they perused the shelf and she consulted her list. I knew they'd move in a minute so I stood quietly, waiting. He suddenly turned, looked at me, and with a sarcastic flourish (if a flourish can be called sarcastic) flung the display case about ten feet along the aisle and then passed beside me and muttered under his breath, "There you go. Happy?!"
I was shocked. I was going about my business, not bothering anyone and certainly not him. I didn't deserve that.
I normally don't respond to this sort of thing. However, I am now a woman of a certain age and I no longer take crap from anyone. Not even grocery store bullies. Especially grocery store bullies.
So even though I was quite steamed, I passed directly in front of him, looked him in the eye (under the brim of his enormous hat) and said in my best, soothing mama voice, "You know, there was really no need to be rude to me just now."
He said, "Well, the last woman was rude to me!"
And again, I said calmly, "But I wasn't. So you shouldn't take it out on me. It's holiday time, remember? We're supposed to be joyful, not mean to each other."
"Uh, huh. Well, MERRY Christmas," he replied.
I honestly couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic. I chose to believe otherwise and warmly and sincerely wished him and his wife the same. I think he's the type of person who is tightly wound most of the time. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. I could have told him to go stuff a turkey where the sun don't shine, but where would that have gotten me? Or the next person to make this guy mad?
The choices we make when we respond to others has a ripple effect.
The woman before him made him angry, and then he responded in kind to me. So I thought, nope, your nasty, negative ripple stops right here with me, Buster. I'm going to absorb all that negative energy and turn it around.
I think it must have worked because he came up behind me in the cashier's line and asked where I found my box of 18 eggs. In the egg section, I told him. Third shelf, on the far right.
"Well, I didn't see them there!" And off he stomped.
"Don't take the first box. They're covered in chicken shit!" I called back to him.
It's a close to an apology as he's capable of, I think. Maybe I got through to him. Maybe he'll be nicer to his wife, or the next person waiting behind him or the guy who cuts in front of him in traffic.
I just know that my ripples are going to be joyful, happy ones, undisturbed by the odd stone lobbed my way.
Merry Christmas everyone!