Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Ripple Effect

I was at the store yesterday shopping for linens.  We have family in town this weekend, and I wanted to have fresh sheets and blankets.  Of course I chose the one blanket without a tag, so the salesgirl had to go and find another one.  I turned to an elderly, well dressed lady behind me and said, "I'm so sorry.  I don't know how I picked the only one without a tag." The woman paused, gave me the meanest stare between squinted eyes and then threw up her hands in disgust.  "Great!" She shrieked.  "Just great." Then she crossed her arms and turned her back to me.

I was appalled and angry.  The delay in my transaction was caused by an accident, and I apologized for it. Her anger transferred to me like a nasty cold germ.  When the nice salesgirls finished ringing me up, I took my bags, turned to the horrid woman behind me and said, "I hope you have a wonderful and patient day." I'm ashamed to say that my voice was dripping in sarcasm.

But really?  Really?  That's her reaction to an honest apology for something that really wasn't my fault. How does she behave to something actually upsetting in her life?  How does she maintain relationships of any kind?  In every moment of our day -- when a car pulls out in front of us, when a neighbor gossips to us, when a co-worker teases someone -- we have a choice as to how we'll behave.  We can be nice or mean.  And that choice has a ripple effect.  I drove home angry at that woman and angry at myself for letting her bitterness make me angry.

I came home, unpacked my bags and hurried up to my office to meditate before several afternoon phone readings.  Here's an example of how some of those readings went:

ME: "Your mom wants to talk about your brother.  Is he married? She's talking about marital discord?"
CLIENT: "Oh, I wouldn't know.  I haven't talked to my brother in over 15 years.  I got mom's car when she died and he wanted it, so that's that.  We don't have a relationship."

Really?  Are you all kidding me? You're going to throw away a relationship over a car?

ME: "Your aunt says that you're being too hard on your daughter.  Something about her hair I think?"

CLIENT: "And her hips.  That poor girl has the worst body God created.  I keep telling her that she needs to watch every morsel that goes into her mouth or its Tubbo City."

Really?  Really?  That client needs to write a book called, "How To Raise an Anorexic and Not Feel Any Remorse About It."

How do you raise your own child to hate her body?  How does that happen?

ME: "Your grandmother's here.  Are you named after her?"

CLIENT: "Yes, but I didn't really know her.  Is there any one else there for me?"

Oh. My. God.  Someone from the other side took precious time out of their day and you don't care because why?  You didn't know her that well?

God help me.  Is it any wonder I went to bed last night after taking 2 Advil and drinking a rather large glass of wine.  Totally unlike me but after my day very necessary.

It will do us all good, I think, to remember that your actions have a ripple effect that like dominoes falling down effect everyone around us.  You have the choice, this moment, every moment, each day, to be nice or mean.  Please, for the sake of us all, BE NICE!

Happy Saturday!

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