I wonder who sees us on our worst day. I had to think that through today when I encountered the ire of a man in a straw hat. This morning slipped away from me in ways big and small and platinum moments were pilfered with nothing to show for them save for a corrected invoice.
I didn’t make it to the class I wanted to take, which kept me from running errands near the gym. Such a little thing felt like a total time waster, that it led me to feel like I wasn’t compatible with sitting in on life today. Sometimes I wonder if I am so acclimated to struggle that I create my own orbit of it so that I have a consistent atmosphere.
I took a deep breath to ground myself and made a list of what I still needed to get done. I felt responsible for myself and my dour mood so it had to change; I couldn’t put that out into the world and expect to see the sun shining. I was overthinking everything about my current discomfort in this growing place that I am trying to reach roots in and yet I still needed to run out and get groceries.
I was finishing up at my last stop and returning a cart to the cart return. There was a young guy intercepting the carts and connecting them to one another, lining them up, quickly and methodically corralling them into one unified column. I waited until he had a handle on the wayward items he was trying to round up and then asked if I could add one more to his unit. He smiled, despite the heat and frustration and politely offered to take it.
I could sense someone behind me – a quirk of being always just touch claustrophobic. This wasn’t simply a person meandering my way; I could feel his irritation before I turned to face him directly. He was closing in on the space I was in. In a few more strides with his cart he would be almost trapping me between the cart I was returning and the one he was pushing. I couldn’t make out exactly what he was saying as he pivoted forward, his fingers splayed out and over his head in the universal sign of “what’s going on here”?!
Though I vowed to save my sorrys for when they were truly warranted, I deferred one in his direction and immediately regretted it. I was being patient and conscious of what another person was doing and for that I wasn’t sorry at all. There was an additional space to have parked his cart but for whatever reason and I didn’t ask so I won’t know for sure, he had decided to put his cart away where I stood. As I walked past him, no longer an obstacle to his cart path, he muttered, “Let’s hurry it up” and I had to look around in hopes of finding someone else he might have been talking to.
I silently seethed. He was good to go at that point, so what was the reason for the comment? Furthermore, I wondered what kind of a person is that irritated while returning a cart. Lastly, how could he be wearing a straw hat and in a bad mood at the same time?
Before I got to the next logical step – the world is awful and people are terrible – in case you didn’t see that coming, I thought of what I could do going forward. I wondered what kind of a day he might be having. What might have gone wrong before that encounter? All of a sudden, the same man I had written off as a rage filled, remorseless, obnoxious person seemed, well, human. Maybe he was plagued with doubt or worry or something even sadder. I couldn’t fix his frustration but I could choose to not absorb it or pass it on.
So I chose the lesson. Maybe I didn’t really make it out of my bad mood on my own on the first try and I needed additional practice. Maybe he needed to pick a fight and not have someone indulge him. I can’t be sure. But I do know that I am going to honor the calling of being responsible for my attitude and I am a work in progress.