I consider myself to be a really nice, fair, generous, and all-around good person. And I do have some pet peeves. Here is one of them...
Scenario: I receive a message on my phone, “Blah blah blah blah blah. Call me back.”
I call back. You answer. “Hi,” I say nicely, “I’m calling you back!” Your response is terse with an edge of annoyance and freneticism, “I am really busy right now driving/dancing/next in line to order my coffee (the barista hates you right now, by the way)/calming my screaming kid/working/fighting with my boyfriend/etc, etc, etc.” In my continued, super-friendly voice, I say, “No problem. Call me when you’re not busy.”
In my mind, I am saying, “Why the #*%$ did you answer the phone?”
Why do you answer the phone when you are really, and understandably, too busy to talk? Just let me leave a message without being exposed to your crazed, self-created frenzy which then makes me frustrated and use that high-pitched “I’m-frustrated-but-still-talking-happy” kind of voice.
The person who set this trigger off in me today is really a nice, fair, generous, and all-around good person. She works really hard and is good to people in need and in general. She supports others to have a job and she nourishes people greatly. She also cut me a great deal when I did call her back later. She also lost her son when he was in high school. He went to a party as an under-aged drinker. The party was hosted by parents of other under-aged drinkers who wanted the kids to have a “responsible” party. Except this kid left in a car and he died.
The number of lessons here are countless. Choose what you will. My take home message is something I’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Always know that every single solitary person you meet or with whom you cross paths has got a story. That story probably has a lot of joy and that story definitely has an incredible amount of sadness. That story is also just as important as yours and as insignificant as yours, all at the same time.
Instead of getting nasty, give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Instead of putting your own personal story of sadness, grief, and loss at the top of everyone else’s agenda, put theirs at the top of yours. Imagine the pain they feel without even having to know their story. Then be nice to them. No matter what. Be kind and generous and fair and good. Puff out your sweet heart and let it touch them even if you’re just passing them as they drive 15 mph in a 40 mph zone. Smile, wave, offer them a silent or verbal blessing, and get on with it.