I was supposed to meet Jack at my office yesterday at 1pm. He and a friend were moving an air-conditioner downstairs and a small refrigerator upstairs for our new office space. I thought that I’d pop into the post office and mail out a package before I met him, and was happy to see only one person at the counter ahead of me.
I became less happy as the woman slowly pulled out 4 separate checks, with stamp orders to fill individually. She told Martha how many stamps that she wanted for each order (and these were not small numbers). After about 5 minutes, (which seems like long time in the post office), Martha finally organized the rolls and sheets for the various orders. Then the woman said, “Oh, not the rolls. I hate them. What do you have in sheets?” Martha said she would have to go out back and see what she had. The woman just nodded. The line behind me started to form and I started feeling anxious.
I didn’t catch my judgemental thoughts as they arose. I began thinking, “This is too long. She should be more considerate. People are waiting and have important places to go.” A man started clearing his throat. Someone else made a comment about the line. The woman did not move any faster, and she didn’t make eye-contact with anyone as she walked past the line when she was finished. I think that she could feel the negative energy coming her way. I left the post office 10 minutes later than I had planned to line up perfectly with Jack pulling into the parking lot. Nothing was wrong, I wasn’t late.
I wish that I had caught those crappy thoughts before I sent them flying out, maybe making someone (besides myself!) feel bad. I drove back home to feed the cats their lunch, and walked into the kitchen to see Ben (one of our cats) eating Luke’s dog food and Luke just waiting. What was a beautiful site! What a contrast to my own behaviour (if only in thought). Luke was not thinking, “Hey, this is unfair! That is my food, or you are taking too long! What do you think you are doing? Cats should not eat dog food, this is an outrage. I am going to speak to the management!” None of that.
Sometimes I make up “rules” in my head, and feel irritated if others don’t follow them. I didn’t realize it, but I must have had a 5 minute post office rule. I guess it would go like this, “If you have more than 5 minutes worth of business at the post office, please split your visits into appropriate increments so the rest of us (i.e. me) will not be inconvenienced.” I heard a comedian say once, “Don’t you know who I think I am?!”
But I know who I am. I am a “work in progress”…walking, sometimes tripping, sometimes even falling down, but always getting back up, with a little more conviction to take the higher road next time. I still need to remind myself everyday to say,
“Everyday in every way, I am getting better and better!” Emile Coue