"When you're in a body, you just never know what kind of day it's going to be."
--Gary Renard, The Disappearance of the Universe
Last Friday we were heading out of town to go clamming. I had a long list of things to do before we left and what I thought was JUST ENOUGH time to do them.
As usual, The Universe had other plans.
This was my list:
- drop the kids off at school
- get shellfish license
- go food shopping
- finish packing
- make pumpkin bread
- get ready for work
And all of this had to happen between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm when I had to work.
Over breakfast that morning my husband suggested that perhaps this list was just a tad ambitious and that maybe, just maybe, I should revise my expectations a bit. Specifically he felt that "make pumpkin bread" needed to be removed.
At first I resisted, I had a PLAN - drop the kids at school, run home and get the car, drive to the sporting goods store near the grocery store and get the shellfish license, do a quick shop (30 minutes was my goal), run home and put the groceries away, make the pumpkin bread and while it's baking finish packing then get ready and leave for work by 12:30 - what could possibly go wrong???
The first part went well, dropped the kids off and then got the car and headed to the sporting goods store. This was where things started to fall apart.
I parked on the street and went to use one of those parking meters that prints you a little sticker to post on your window. The machine was not accepting debit cards. I put my debit card in multiple times and nothing.
I ran back to the car to scavenge for some change, to no avail. Once these machines became standard issue in our area I had stopped collecting change for parking in my car. I rarely keep change in my purse either, but I rummaged around and managed to come up with $.25, just enough for twelve minutes. It would have to do.
Things went smoothly at the sporting goods store until it was time to pay. I couldn't find my debit card. I looked and I looked and I looked, but it was not in my purse.
Had I left it in the machine? But that was impossible, the whole problem was that the machine wouldn't take my debit card. Still, I was convinced I had left it in the broken slot or worse, just dropped in on the ground.
Comforting myself with the fact that going into work later meant I could get it blocked and replaced right away, I pulled out my credit card, paid for the fishing license and ran to the parking machine to look for my debit card. Not there.
I looked in the car and on the ground around the car. Not there.
Finally I decided it must be in my purse so I started going through it systematically and - whew! - there was my debit card tucked in with my cash from when I had been searching for change.
Crisis averted. Time to move on to the next thing. There was still hope for the pumpkin bread at this point, but it was fading fast.
Drove to the store and pulled into the parking lot. There was my friend who works at the store gathering up grocery carts. Stopped to chat for a few minutes, knowing this was further depleting my pumpkin bread making time, but not wanting to give him short shrift because he is always so welcoming whenever he sees me.
Grabbed a cart and headed into the store. And there, walking into the store at the very same moment, was someone I used to know.
This was not a relationship that had ended well; rather one that ended with harsh words, hurt feelings, and screeching tires.
We looked at each other, looked away, and looked back again.
"You're _______," I said, questioningly.
"You're _______," he replied, knowingly.
We chatted, caught up, I met his kids (they were charming and lovely) and we went our separate ways.
I was a little bit in shock. I had always imagined that one day I would run into this person, despite my having moved away from the town where we knew each other many years ago. I just had a feeling....but still it was startling to have it actually happen, and especially on this day when I was trying to get. Everything. Done.
After that I gave up on the pumpkin bread and just wandered around the store processing this blast from the past.
I was also texting a friend of mine from that time (the friend who I had just gone to Paris with) who was kind enough to share my shock over this unexpected encounter.
As I stepped up to the refrigerator section I heard the "ting" indicating a new text. I looked behind me to make sure no one was waiting and pulled out my phone to take a look.
I started punching out a quick response (less than six words) and all of a sudden I heard someone say, "Move it!"
I turn around to see a middle-aged woman (a little more middle aged that me) standing there reaching for something over my shoulder.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"Don't just stand there TEXTING, getting in everyone's way," she replied in a voice so full of hate you would have thought I had just smacked her across the face.
"If you need me to move, all you have to do is ask politely," I responded in a voice purposely full of sweetness and light (the same voice I use when asking my kids to talk politely).
"Politely? When you're standing there TEXTING (every time she said the word 'texting' she made it sound like the F-bomb)? I don't think so."
"I'm still a human being," I said, still being uber-polite.
"No you're NOT," she spat back, "Not if you are standing there TEXTING while other people are trying to shop." And then she shooed me. Made a motion with her hand like you do to a fly or an animal who is about to poop on your rug.
And that just lit me up.
I was livid. I was screaming obscenities at her and smacking her around the store in my head.
In real life I was frozen, unable to believe that someone would actually talk to another human being in a grocery store that way. With so much hatred, and so little compassion. (Because I fully admit that what I was doing - texting in the refrigerated section - was rude and a little bit selfish, but did she realize I had just run into an ex-boyfriend from a million years ago in the grocery store???).
And then mine kicked in. I didn't even have to do a forgiveness worksheet, I started going through the steps in my head right there in the store.
What happened? Lady was totally rude to me.
How do I feel about it? Enraged.
What is she mirroring for me? There have been times when I have been rude to people in public when I was really angry or having a bad day. She is me. (Yikes!)
What am I mirroring for her? Ah-h-h.....This is where it gets interesting. She is shooing me so that must be how she feels people treat her. She feels shooed by life, so she is shooing me. I tried to imagine all of the people who may have shooed her in the past: her mom, her best friend, her teacher, her husband, her boss, her co-workers.....and how bad that must feel.
I decided to forgive her as soon as I could (I was still feeling angry).
I also called after her,"If that's the way you want to live your life!" It wasn't exactly the high road, but I hoped it was on the road to the high road. I wanted to convey to her somehow that I didn't condone her behavior, but that I saw her as a person in pain and I wanted things to go better than that for her. I hope she got the message.
Nope, it's not over yet......
I finished up my shopping and was heading to the checkout line and there is my old friend again, come to say good bye.
In a truly bizarre twist of fate he was coming to thank me for breaking up with him and forcing him to deal with his shit. Letting me know how our relationship had affected him in a way that was ultimately positive and that he was grateful for it.
After the morning I'd had, it was nice to hear.