When I got home from my part-time job as a contractor’s helper the other day, there was a message on my answering machine from a doctor's office wondering if I'd like to reschedule the appointment I had missed. Ugh! I called the office right away, expecting to be met with a chilly reception and possibly even the expectation that I would pay for the missed appointment. The woman who answered the phone couldn't have been nicer and she commiserated with my ramblings about just not being able to get my act together. I made a new appointment, and hung up thinking how differently I would have felt if she had been rude to me. She had the power to make my day or ruin it and she chose the former.
Unfortunately, some people choose to ruin one's day, as demonstrated by the following incident. One afternoon I pulled into a parking space at the mall opposite a young woman who, unbeknownst to me, had just gotten in her car and was planning to leave by pulling forward through the space instead of backing up. If possible, I try not to block people in this situation, and even mouthed an apology to her through the window before I realized I was about to suffer her wrath.
It became clear that the young woman felt I had maliciously parked in front of her in order to make her life miserable. She first made a hand gesture that I am quite confident was not a wave. She backed out of her parking spot with her window open, yelling something at me that I can’t repeat here. Then, she drove around in a circle and back past my car, making sure I had heard her the first time, by repeating the expletive and "waving" to me again. Of course, these days one has to be careful not to get shot in even a seemingly benign confrontation, so I remained calm and she finally drove away. I must admit, however, that I had sized her up as well as possible from my vantage point and decided that in a fair fight, I could surely have "taken her." Anyway, this young woman had succeeded in ruining my morning, because I couldn’t help replaying the incident in my mind.
I wish more people would choose to model the behavior of the receptionist rather than the wild mall bully. I think we need a Hall of Fame for those people who through their simple courtesies choose to make someone's day.