Monday, April 5, 2010

Easy Does It

"It isn't a crime to be an asshole, it's just very counter-productive."

The old adage says that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It's so true. Back in the day I was quick to fly into a rage over any little thing, thinking that my anger was justified. It wasn't. Most of my anger came from things that were out of my control or things that anger would have had little effect upon. Since I didn't have control over my anger and since I didn't have a reasonable outlet for it, it flew in whatever direction I was facing. Sad days, those.

There is a difference between what we feel and what we do. Between what we feel and what we do lies either brilliance or apathy. Of course, this applies to every emotion we experience, but I've never seen it be so tangible as when someone is angry. For example, many years ago I was waiting to board a flight when the entire flight was cancelled and bumped to the following morning. Feathers were ruffled. As we stood in line waiting to be re-ticketed, etc., the woman in front of me was very loudly and angrily complaining to the ticket guy. Not only was she complaining (bitching is the more appropriate word here), but she was making demands. "You need to do this for me, I want that!" The more she bitched, the less the ticket guy listened and/or helped her. His superior, having witnessed most of her tirade (it was hard not to for anyone within a 100 foot radius), came over and said, "Sorry, Ma'am..." She stomped off, threatening the BBB and lawsuits.

I stepped up to the counter. The ticket guy braced himself for a new reaming, and then I watched his shoulders untense and drop about six inches as I kindly said, "Hi... rough evening, huh?" He nodded, wiped is brow, took a deep breath and asked, "How can I help you?" I very gently asked to be re-ticketed on the next available flight, explained that I understood it wouldn't be until the next morning, further explained that I lived 2 hours from the airport, and asked if there was any possibility of me being put up for the night (courtesy of the airlines) at the airport motel. The guy smiled and said, "Sure! I can do that... I'll get you a meal voucher too."

The other woman's vinegar was too bitter. My honey was sweet. I took my frustration, turned it around, and gave it a soup├žon of brilliance. Sometimes all it takes is a moment's hesitation and a deep breath. It also doesn't hurt to ask yourself, "Is anger going to change anything? Are my ruffled feathers going to matter to anyone concerned?" Probably no.

Your urgency is not my emergency. Consider that this is how most folks view the world. What's important to you usually isn't (very) important to them. Besides that, they've all got their own issues and timelines to deal with. Maybe the ticket guy was thinking about a dying family member, or maybe his car was making funny noises on the way to work, or maybe his pants didn't fit well. Anything could have been happening in his life to make him care less about his job. So, someone coming along and trying to rip him a new one just didn't go over well. Someone coming along and taking a minute to recognize him as a fellow human did.

I recall my first day back to work after John died. A woman called and was complaining about not receiving her product. I explained that we sent everything out via US Post first class mail, and asked her to give it another day or two. Her huffy response was, "So... in the meantime, I just have to suffer?!" It took me biting my lip hard enough to make it bleed to not say, "Listen Bitch... you want to talk suffereing....?" Instead, I simply said, "Sorry, that's our policy." And ended the call.

Grab a spoonful of honey, folks. Take a deep breath. The person you're about to explode upon is a fellow human with concerns of his/her own.

Easy does it...

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