Although Facebook can be riddled with ridiculous crap, occasionally, I find it to be a source of some pretty inspiring stuff.
I was recently mindlessly scrolling my FB feed, when a post from a friend of mine caught my eye.
The post was written by a woman named Amy Murray, director of early childhood education at the Calgary French & International School, and posted to her blog, Miss Night’s Marbles. Ms. Murray wrote the piece in 2014 and entitled it “Dear Parent: About THAT Kid”. I clicked on the link, assuming I was about to read a piece bashing the misbehaved “bad kid” in class.
I was wrong.
Ms. Murray writes the piece, slightly tongue-in-cheek, feigning sympathy for a parent who is worried only about the effect the “bad kid” is having on their own child, without giving a second thought to what the “bad kid” might be going through themselves.
She hoodwinks her reader into believing they are reading one thing, before slyly unloading her frustration at not being able to communicate what is going on behind the scenes of some of her students, at not being able to provide a better panoramic viewpoint of the life of the “bad kid”. She acknowledges the importance of discreetness, and the necessity of privacy, while still reminding readers the gravity of compassion and just how vital empathy for others is. (My description does not do her writing justice, do yourselves a favour and have a read yourself.)
The world works in curious ways. This three-year-old blog was plopped into my lap on a day where I was struggling a little bit. Let me explain:
By day, I work for a marketing agency, but two or three times a week I go to my second job, as a server. I serve because, beyond the nice cushion it gives my excessive spending issue, I actually really enjoy it. Generally, people are delightful, and I float out the doors at the end of my shift feeling energized. However, there are some days where I stagger out of the bar feeling at the end of my rope and ready to throw in my waitressing-towel.
Sunday was one of those days. I was belittled by a customer for my dress (which is one-style-fits-all uniform), berated for the length of time the food took to come out and then to top it all off, shamed by a woman who sneered at me “you probably need a calculator, don’t you dear?” while I was mentally adding together separated bills.
It took all my energy to not dump my tray on that woman, and as I drove home, I cried my dumb little server eyes out in anger and frustration at being so humiliated.
I just don’t get it. Where does this propensity to spew hate and negativity come from? What did that woman personally gain out of pummeling me with her disdain of my perceived profession?
When I walked through my front floor, snuffling away and feeling sorry for myself, I popped open my computer and there was Ms. Murray’s blog, the first item on my Facebook news feed. Her words washed over me and my crocodile tears dried up.
I was reminded:
What can easily be eaten up by the busy-ness and harshness of life, but still so imperative, is empathy, compassion for others, basic humility. How difficult is it to smile at the woman taking your coffee order at Starbucks? Speak politely to the West Jet customer service agent who is trying to help you figure out your booking issues? Practice patience when your lunch order is taking a bit longer then you expected?
Be mindful. That West Jet representative didn’t personally decide to victimize you by messing up your booking (she didn’t even make your booking), she is simply the one who is on the receiving end of your wrath. Yes, I understand an unexpected cancelled or changed flight is frustrating, but how does being an asshole help your situation?
Be aware. Other things are happening beyond your all-important bubble. The server you spoke to with searing scorn only has so much control over how quickly your food is prepared (and trust me, she wants it out as quickly as you do). Do you think verbally assaulting her is going to make the chef pick up the pace? Last week, I witnessed a 50-year-old man ripping the teenage girl working behind the Tim Horton’s counter a new one because THEY WERE OUT OF EARL GREY TEA. I’m not kidding you. On what planet did that grown man believe that that girl deserve to be on the receiving end of his verbal abuse? Like gosh, how the heck did he know she was the official tea-order-er for that Tim’s and how the heck did he know she was the one who had the audacity to not see into the future at the influx of Earl Grey tea orders for that day, and thus, properly stockpile?! How rude of her!
And on that note, for goodness sake, be kind. What does a smile, a please and a thank you, a pleasant attitude cost you? Absolutely nothing! Kindness is contagious, and anyways, as my dad always told me, “You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.”
This is not meant to be preachy. Trust me, I get it, no one walks around with rainbows shooting out of their butts every single moment of every single day. A few weeks ago I was less-than pleasant when I showed up at my doctor’s for an appointment I had scheduled months prior and booked off work to attend, only to find out it had been cancelled the week prior. I was beyond irritated. What a waste of a vacation day! I tried to keep my composure, but I’m sure the acrimony was leaking out of my pores. The receptionist apologized profusely and explained she had tried to call me the week prior, but couldn’t leave a message because my voicemail wasn’t set up.
So while my initial reaction was outrage at the receptionist, if I were to stop and consider the entire situation, the only person I really had to blame was myself, for not setting up my voicemail, and thus, missing an important call. What role did the receptionist play in my unfortunate situation? I mean, really, what did I expect the her to do when she couldn’t reach me, make a house-call? In the same vein, maybe your coffee took a little bit longer today, but maybe that wouldn’t spark the same indigence if you weren’t already running five minutes behind.
And even if that’s not the case, and the receptionist had messed up my appointment, the barista did drop your first coffee resulting in a little longer wait time, how devastating can that really be? If that is our biggest problem, well, I still think we are pretty damn lucky.
It’s all a matter of perspective. That “bad kid” in school who is supposedly having detrimental effect on your kid is possibly fighting battles your kid can’t even fathom. The same goes for that server, barista, customer service agent or coworker that you decided would bear the brunt of your impatience today. You have no clue what kind of hardships the people you interact with are facing. Everyone is playing in the same game of life, and everyone is doing the best they know how. Have faith in that. Maybe we can’t fix the world’s problems, but we can stop tossing our own testy two-cents into them.
And to the man who yelled at the Tim Horton’s worker over the catastrophic tea shortage? Email me. I will personally buy you a lifetime supply of Earl Grey tea if you promise to never speak to someone like that again.