“These people are so damned proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot.It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us. Love costs; this is its value.”
– from The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen
When I sat down to write today, this wasn’t how I planned to spend my time. I had a whole analysis of Alice Through the Looking Glass as the intended focal point. But, something got stuck in my craw which changed everything.
The other day, life did not go as expected. I’m sure you’ve had those days too — who hasn’t? — but let me elaborate. It was my day off, and I had appointments and plans. They all got done. But, something happened along the way that made the day less than what I hoped it would be.
Bad service. Poor treatment by those I put my trust in. That’s pretty much the straw that broke this camel’s back. I was treated badly — or I perceived myself to be treated poorly which is, for all intents and purposes since perception is my reality — all that mattered.
I had a doctor appointment and received poor customer service. Now, to be fair, it was an appointment with an optometrist, which comes with expectations since my dad was a prominent, successful optometrist who set high standards during his 45 years in practice. Dad cared about each and every patient. And, as a member of his staff, I learned how to treat a customer … and what kind of actions were not acceptable.
It began with a wait time of 45 minutes without so much as a word from the staff to apologize for the delay. I was ignored while the staff talked and discussed, with an obvious attitude of disdain and frustration, changes in the office right in front of me. That set me off, making me uncomfortable. Then, there was the appointment itself. It just felt … off. I didn’t feel at ease … and when it comes to eye care, I do know my stuff.
I left over an hour later than I expected to be on my way, annoyed and dissatisfied with everything about that last 90 minute experience. My day was wrecked. Oh, I did a variety of things to try bring it back to center. Random acts of kindness always help. But, I was pretty pissed off. And no matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t completely shake it.
After a good night sleep, I felt better. Then, amazingly, I experienced some of the best customer service I had received lately in the following 48 hours. This improved my overall outlook immensely and reminded me that there are people and businesses out there who truly choose to make experiences all the more pleasant. It’s all in the way they handle the encounter.
No matter how much yoga or how many hot bubble baths I take, people still get to me. I care too deeply, perhaps. I open myself up. And, I get hurt sometimes. No matter my decision to not allow people or situations power, there are those that hurt me without a second thought … sometimes intentionally, sometimes with a careless act, sometimes because of stuff going on with them that I know nothing about and sometimes for reasons I don’t understand — which can actually cause the deepest pain of all.
I’m pretty sure this optometrist and his staff did not mean to offend. They don’t know the emotional markers I carry or expectations I have as a result of being an Optometrist’s Daughter. I know that most people don’t get up in the morning with an idea of inflicting discomfort or pain on others. But, offend they did. And I will choose a new optometrist as a result … just like I will choose to find a better place for my energy, time, and emotion when people or situations cause me pain.
Another thing I can choose is how I respond, though. I can respond by getting annoyed and snippy, which I’m ashamed to say I did on Wednesday. Or, I can choose to let it go, accept the situation for what it is and love anyway.
You may choose not to be my friend or not to provide me with great service or not cast me in a play or not select me for a project or not return my phone call or not follow-up on my request (or not “fill-in-the-blank”) BUT I can still choose to respond graciously and with compassion. I can still choose Love, Hope and Light.
Life is truly made up of choices … and though “reacting” is a choice, my bad day was a clear reminder to me that I do not want to check that box! Bad service or unkind treatment don’t mean that I should respond with negative energy or thoughts. A debate or disagreement with a loved one, family member or friend doesn’t have to result in bloodshed, years of not speaking or unfriending. I’ve seen to much of that in my lifetime. It’s unpleasant and sad.
Paths diverge from time to time and some issues can’t be bridged. I am affected by life’s ebbs and flows. But, it also doesn’t mean I should “freak out” It doesn’t mean I won’t still care or that I should be unkind back. If I learned anything this week, it’s that I want to choose the higher path. Oh I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress. But I choose. No one else does.
I guess that’s what I figured out on Wednesday. To remember when the storm hits, that my roots are strong. I was upset in that office and I carried that anger with me all day long, allowing it to affect my mood and attitude, when I should have been a bigger person. But, looking back, I guess it taught me something.
Yeah, I had a bad day. Those will come. Mean people may come my way. People and situations may hurt me. People may reject or treat me poorly. But, I will do my best to Love anyway. I choose to Be Kind. Guess there was something I needed to learn this week about Stamina and Love. They are more powerful than the shadows of bad service and meanness.
But only when you choose Hope and Kindness.