In my ongoing quest to design myself as harmonious a life as possible in this crazy, franchised, cats-have-ear-mites-that-I-can't-get-rid-of, road-raging, car-with-no-air-conditioning, Interstate-parking-lot world we live in, I have been making an effort to be more Zen about my dealings with the less-than-Midwestern folks I am forced to interact with.
My whole theory is that people who are grumpy tend to be so because they're unhappy folks (chronically, or maybe just for the day), unless, of course, you've really done something to make them ornery. Rather than let myself get mad or grumpy, rather than ruin my day, I remind myself that whoever it is that just shit on me has a reason beyond me that made them do so. Like the grumpy lady at the gas station who yelled at me for accidentally walking into the cashiering section of the store after coming out the bathroom door since they left the door to the area open. Seriously yelled at me, despite me saying sorry and not even imaginging it was a big deal. I assured myself it wasn't me -- "She's working at a Hess Mart in her middle ages, with a bad perm to boot; no wonder she's unhappy with the world. Let her attitude slide off you." Now, I doubt this is what the Dalai Lama does to not blame the negative people of the world, but it works for me.
Human nature can be really unfortunate at times. Feeling down? Be bitchy and bring everyone else down with you. Feeling fat? Be catty and shitty to every skinny girl you come across. Jealous of what someone has? Try to make them feel that it's not that great. Been burned in a past relationship? Try to make everyone as cynical about love as you are.
While I find human psychology very interesting and try to be mindful about its effects on my own behavior, I know I'm not immune to the bad stuff. Just yesterday, I overheard the tiny, cute girl who works in the store next door say something, and of course I don't remember what exactly, but it had the same effect as when someone uses the word "death"to describe someone who can't hear. Inside, I went "Ha!" You know, as in, "Ha! She may be a size 0 and have huge boobs, but least she's dumb!" Now, I know that's a less-than-ideal to be thinking of my fellow ladies, taking glee in her shortcomings, but it happens. It's also less-than-ideal of me to point out the fact that she's Asian (and tiny -- did I say tiny?), so there is just about no way those things are real. But I just did it anyway.
It's a hard one. Sometimes you want to meet negativity with negativity, attitude with attitude; I swear that lady at the gas station was lucky that I decided to walk out on her still-yellin' ass rather than start yelling myself (and that I resisted the temptation to go back in and demand to talk to her manager), a la the time at the pet store when the owner threatened to call the cops on me. Nice girl, ain't I? In my defense, it wasn't my fault -- they wouldn't intervene when their quail chicks were pecking one of the chick's eyes. Its EYES WERE BLEEDING and they didn't care. At that point, I offered to buy it and they said no. Who does that? Refusing a sale so that the little bird would suffer, just to spite me? Anyway.
Maybe someday I'll have gritted my teeth and smiled to enough grumpy folks (or at least ignored them) that I will morph into one of those kindly ladies who always has a smile, never seems to get the attitude, and calls everyone "dear." I hope so. In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to keep reminding myself that unhappiness breeds unhappiness (self-satisfied folks rarely try to bring others down, right?) and keep trying to not blame people for their shitty attitudes.