Oh man. This can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, can't it?
Just yesterday I was faced with a man who was quite the crumudgeon and tested my kindness capabilities big time.
The long story short: Our catering company (whom we love for providing us with delicious and healthy lunches) had parked outside our office to quickly run in and grab the equipment post-lunch. The van was, admittedly, temporarily parked in a tow-away zone for non commercial vehicles, though the driver had put on her flashers and intended to stay a whopping 5 minutes to get in and out. Folks on our block do this pretty much on a daily basis; it's a horribly inconvenient place for a tow-away zone and people are very mindful of only staying a few minutes to get their quick errands done. It's kind of like this neighborhood has an unspoken agreement about it.
I looked up from my desk to see a parking ticket agent (what is the official term for people who write tickets but are not cops? beats me.) AND a tow truck pulling up to the van. The caterer and I sprinted outside immediately to tell them she was moving ASAP and to beg for forgiveness, only to be met by a hugely negative man who essentially...how do I say this delicately....verbally ripped me a new one about how stupid I was to have her park there in the first place.
"Serenity now" was on repeat in my head.
Although I was able to calmly convince him not to tow her (the power of kindness!!), he still slapped (a little too smugly for my taste) a $75 ticket on her window. Thankfully, my company footed the bill for the caterer since we felt badly for the situation...but it definitely still stung.
Once I got back inside I was clearly on my last breath of patience and had some choice words about the man. I was even threatening to call the parking authority to file a curse-word-filled complaint about his behavior. Hey, you can take the girl out of Jersey, right? My coworker gently reminded me of a conversation we had just the day before in which I stated that people are complicated little beings and that we can never fully know where they are coming from or what's happening in their lives. I had said that the negativity from others in most situations has nothing to do with us and we should shy away from taking things personally. It's simply not worth it.
Whoa, maybe I should practice what I preach, huh?
Here's what I know:
1. I too would be fairly miserable at my job of handing out parking tickets. Nobody likes a guy who makes people pay fines! Can you imagine being so unpopular?
2. I have no idea what his life is like or what kind of day he might have been having. It must be frustrating to have to deal with people trying to skirt the parking system on a daily basis.
3. Because I remained calm, apologized and acted as kindly as possible I was able to avoid the way bigger fine and inconvenience of being towed. It didn't matter that I couldn't control his negative (and unnecessary) anger--I could control myself, and that counted for something.
Kindness will always be a good choice, my darlings. It's certainly not always the easiest or the most natural feeling...but it will always be a good choice.