I generally start each day with a few minutes of random reading. I have a number of books I find particularly inspirational all within grabbing distance of my closet. At some point after I get dressed but before I head downstairs to write, I pick one up, open it, and read whatever paragraph I happen to see.
It’s either my message for the day or my kick in the butt, depending on my mood.
The other morning I picked up Entering the Castle by Caroline Myss and I read a passage about kindness. Her point was that it’s easy to be kind when people are pleasant or fun to be with, but it’s more difficult and actually more meaningful to be kind to those who most try our patience.
That morning I happened to be going to the lab for blood work after fasting the night before. No breakfast, no coffee. Just a quick shower, a few minutes with the book and I left. It used to be that you showed up at the lab and waited until your number came up. Things have changed in the last year and now you can make appointments on line. I’d scheduled my appointment several weeks earlier and was happy to know I’d be in, out, and home to coffee and scrambled eggs within fifteen minutes.
Other than the two employees behind the desk, the lab was empty when I arrived. I had a number of requisitions from two different doctors, and one required some explanation. I spent a few minutes going over things, and sat down to wait. After a minute, I saw the sign: Please inform us at check in if you have an appointment. It was taped midway down the side of the counter where a preschooler (or someone sitting down) could see it. Since it was out of my line of sight when I’d walked in the door, and since I was preoccupied with my requisitions at the time, I’d missed it.
I quickly informed the fellow behind the counter that I had an appointment.
Well. Apparently my failure to inform him of this two minutes earlier created a serious problem for him as well as a horrendously difficult situation for this still-empty lab. I offered a sincere apology, and then defaulted to humor. That made things worse. Much, much worse. He berated me with a particular viciousness that left me feeling like the preschooler for which the sign was placed.
I shut my mouth, mutely followed him into the cubicle, let him poke me with his nasty needle and I got out of there as soon as I could.
Irritation isn’t good on an empty stomach. It feeds on itself. By the time I got home ten minutes later, I was indignant (read royally pissed off). As I poured a cup of coffee, I went back over the conversation (that old he said/I said/I should have said loop), told myself the guy was power tripping and way out of line. I told Mr. Petrol Head that I was going to write a letter and file a formal complaint.
Then I remembered what I’d read only half an hour earlier. That passage about kindness had been my message for the day. Now it was my kick in the butt.
I decided to let the whole thing go. All of it. But the next time I go to the lab, I think I’ll try another location. And I’ll tell them I have an appointment the minute I walk through the door.