Easier said than done, of course, but worth focusing on if a person is to live their life as productively as possible. Nothing that happened a few days ago, or in childhood, should cast a dark enough shadow on the moment to prevent it from being lived fully. Easy to say, hard to do.
An action brings up a strong, familiar feeling that was so painful so many times? Very hard to remain in the moment, with that old tightness in the lungs, choking down the desire to strike back somehow. A friend keeps saying “remember, we are not helpless eight year-olds now.” True dat, though it’s something the feelings don’t always take into consideration.
Days spent stewing over the disrespectful, pugnacious, other-blaming “office manager” at the local tax-in-the-box where I have been trying to have my tax filed. Feet up on the desk, legs apart, ESPN flashing box scores on the screen next to him, a smirk like a sideways ass crack on his face, he said, after a week of zero service, lying and wrong information given “you can’t intimidate me by trying to get my boss’s contact info. I’m not giving it to you anyway.” He then added, for the benefit of his cow-faced associates, and to make his contempt crystal clear, “you’re the only customer I’ve ever had a problem with.”
That the problem he referred to was his failure to keep any of several promises to the customer, or to follow up, or to have the correct software installed for the half hour late appointment, or confidently giving the wrong advice regarding what needed to be filed, and the rest? Not his problem. The problem of the unreasonable customer, you dig?
I spent days unable to stop choking over having my nose rubbed in my “powerlessness”, even as a paying customer, or the 48 hour delay in his immediate supervisor getting back to me (I dug up her email address from a correspondence a year ago), pleasantly, only mildly defensive. I wrote back to her, making sure she forwarded our correspondence to her boss. Then, because we live in a society where nobody apologizes voluntarily, and offense is often employed to bolster defense, she felt compelled to add that my tax filing was a year late (I owe no tax, so that’s not strictly relevant) and that she “left a message immediately after i had completed the return with information provided and knew exactly what I needed to finalize the return. I will ask Michelle to call. Have a great weekend.”
To which I replied:
YOU knew exactly what you needed to finalize the return, you are just sharing that with me now, more than a week after my appointment. Have a great weekend
The meaning of that “have a great weekend” is universally understood in this context. Not ten minutes later, the call I’d been waiting a week for arrived. Michelle, the boss, eventually conceded that she was sorry that I felt I had not received good service.
I corrected her. She should not be sorry that I felt I had not received good service, she should acknowledge that the service I received was objectively the opposite of good service. She needed to acknowledge that anyone would have felt disrespected by the unprofessional treatment I’d received. That I was not looking for an apology because my sensitive feelings were hurt, but because I was put through an unprofessional and disrespectful series of aggravations that nobody, let alone a paying customer, should ever have to tolerate. She conceded as much, telling me that she was sorry and would talk to the jerk in question about his attitude.
And because I was reasonable, and didn’t browbeat her once I’d extracted the apology, things going forward will be fine whenever I get the paperwork this jackass told me I don’t need.
In the midst of it, when all that exists is an unwanted, undeserved hassle with a belligerent and unyielding moron, there is no completely putting it out of mind, no 100% focus available for the other difficult concentrated work a person in a tight corner must do to get out of that corner. In the moment, all is possible, truly, if you can focus completely on what you have immediately in front of you to focus on. Dealing with multiple moments at once, or several aggravating ones at once, is a recipe for bad karma, poor sleep and unhealthy eating.
Better to breathe, smile, remember what you love to do, and do it as much of the time as you can arrange to do it.