This morning, on my way to work, I stopped to get gas.
Yes, people, on my way TO work, I left enough time to stop and get gas. Get over it.
I actually needed gas last night, but when I left work at 7:30pm, it was only 9 degrees. NINE degrees. First time in single digits this winter, and naturally, I picked that day to be wearing a sweater dress and tights. So I decided to skip gas last night in favor of this morning, when, though I couldn’t be sure of the temperature (a balmy 12 degrees), I could at least make certain I was dressed appropriately.
So, there I am at my local PDQ. I’m humming along to the Christmas music piping through the overhead speakers when the guy behind me pulls up in a truck, gets out, starts his gas, then LEAPS back into his truck as though he was in danger of hypothermia. I stood there in a coat, no gloves, no hat, no scarf, and all I thought was “wuss.”
Then, while my thoughts were drifting to Ella Fitzgerald singing “Sleigh Ride” (I really prefer the Johnny Mathis version) a little red car zoomed up next to me and the woman driving leaned out her open window and said, “Miss?” Right away, I was pleased. I dislike being called ma’am.
I leaned around the gas pump to see her better as she said, “can you tell me how to get to Tamarack Village?” I said that I could and she said, “Oh, thank goodness! I’m from Canon Falls and am meeting my daughter at her work. I am so very lost and her directions don’t make any sense at all.”
I gave her the most direct route I could, which did put her on the back roads, rather than the freeway. I assured her she was very close and if she drove for longer than 5-7 minutes then she had missed the shopping center. She reached out of her car window and patted me on the arm and said, “Thank you, dear, and God Bless. Happy Holidays!” Then she waved at me and drove off.
Ever since, I haven’t been able to stop smiling. I helped her, she blessed me and we both parted, feeling good. That’s exactly how it is supposed to be. Sometimes, I think it is far too easy to forget that people are good and simple things go a long way. We get too caught up in reading about anger and fear and darkness that is a part of human nature and we start to doubt the essential goodness of mankind.
While I may be waxing philosophical about what amounted to giving directions, it made me think. That simple interaction with a stranger changed the course of my day. I am happy to let it, because it leaves me feeling good. However, far too often, I let interactions change my day for the worse. I let stupid driving make me angry. I get annoyed when the person in front of me doesn’t make the token effort to hold the door. I get frustrated with people at work for a myriad of reasons.
I’d like to let those directions be a metaphor. As though some higher power was giving me directions to a happier life. Why do I let things annoy me? It only frustrates ME, the other person can walk away unscathed, while I carry that frustration around like an albatross, feeling its weight for the rest of my day. I’m going to try, for the holiday season (and hopefully it will become a practice and continue) to change my attitude when I get annoyed and frustrated. When I happens, I’ll turn my attitude around and focus on being cheery and joyful. I’m not saying I won’t get bothered, because I will, but I won’t let it stick. When it gets hard I’ll just think to myself “thank you, dear, and God bless”.
I love this time of year and I’d like to walk around feeling like I do right now, all day, every day.
That’s my goal. Christmas cheer to the point of making you sick. Wish me luck! (And if I get lost…maybe you could point the way?)