356 – December 22
“There may be a hundred things you know about a person—all of them bad. But there may be just one thing you don’t know, which if you did know, would completely change your opinion.”—A Nigerian Christian
When I was the bookkeeper at an employment agency, one of my duties was to prepare the weekly payroll for all the temporary employees the company had sent out on assignments. This was a simple task and for the most part enjoyable, as I got the pleasure of handing out paychecks to happy recipients each week. It was fun to give people money!
But one temp, Terry, was an absolute terror to work with. She always seemed rude and demanding to me. She would show up before the checks were written and say she was in a hurry and had to have her check right then. I felt used and abused and dreaded seeing her. Every time I saw her, my heart sank, and I got tense and irritable, expecting problems. Since I was expecting them, she made sure to deliver.
One Thursday, there she was again.
“Where’s my check?” she demanded as she walked through the door.
“I haven’t gotten to it yet,” I replied huffily.
“I need it now because I have to get to work.” Steely-eyed, Terry plopped herself down on the chair in my office.
“All right, all right!” I exclaimed angrily and flounced to my desk to write the check.
She took it without a thank you and left. I marched into Holly’s office to complain and moan about what a nasty piece of work Terry was.
Holly put me straight in short order. She listened to me complain and then asked, “Do you know Terry’s story?”
“No,” I grumped, not caring very much either.
“Terry is working three jobs,” Holly said. “Her father left her mother with five kids years ago. Last year, her mother died, and all of the kids were separated and packed off to foster homes. Terry is saving every penny she earns so that she can she can provide a home and get her brothers and sisters back together with her as a family once more.”
“Oh.” I felt very small and very ashamed. I thanked Holly for telling me and slunk back to my office, resolved to be a kinder, friendlier person—not only to Terry, but to all the people whose stories I didn’t know, whose pain I didn’t comprehend.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.
“I am gentle, kind, and loving to all I meet today.”
I really wish I could remember this every time someone is rude or unpleasant. I’m glad I wrote this story down so that its lesson could come back to the forefront of my mind at least once a year as I work my way through The Wealthy Spirit lessons yet again. I always say that I am my own number one, hardest-working student…
I still struggle with how best to respond when people treat me rudely. Sometimes I get sucked into trying to argue with them. Yikes. Have you ever tried to win an argument with an Angry Tuna? As I categorize people into three groups of Dolphins, Sharks, and Tuna (The glad, the bad, and the sad), I saw that there are actually two kinds of Tuna – victims (sad), and angry (mad).
It’s impossible to win an argument with an Angry Tuna, because their job is to be mad and they are really good at it. They are not interested in listening to your point of view or having a reasonable discussion. They are not looking for compromise or reconciliation. They are right, and you and everyone else are wrong.
At least that’s how it seems to me sometimes when I get blasted by someone out of the internet ether.
For example, one time I sent out my usual monthly newsletter, and I always get some lovely replies from the dolphins on my list. I enjoy hearing from my readers! But every now and then, an Angry Tuna strikes. Shudder. I’m just never very prepared for an out-of-the-blue message like this last one that said, “STOP CONTACTING ME!!!!!!” There actually were more exclamation points, but you get the idea.
I usually just delete these people from my list with no response except “Done.” But this time, it just made me mad. Really, why would I want to keep contacting somebody who didn’t want to be contacted? What could I possibly get out of it? Like if I bothered her enough she’d somehow magically transform into a raving fan of mine? As. If.
So I wrote back, “OKAY!!! You could have unsubscribed yourself at any time – the ‘manage your subscription button’ is at the bottom of the email. If you learn how to do these things you will save yourself a lot of aggravation. I took care of it for you.”
Okay, it was a little snarky on my part. I wanted to be right and have the last word, too.
She wrote back instantly, “How dare you! This is not the first or second time I have unsubscribed and in addition ASKED TO BE REMOVED! Your emails are a nuisance. How dare you act as if you’re doing me a favour! No wonder you have to bombard strangers with emails! Bizarre.”
Whoa! Fire flooded my veins and I was ready to blast her back (never make the redhead mad). Then I caught myself. I backed up and calmed down, remembering you can’t out-anger an Angry Tuna. I also recalled that, like Terry the Terror Temp, I didn’t know anything about this woman, what she was up to, if she had real problems and need to vent, if she was working hard to solve an issue in her life, or just got one too many spam emails that day. Perhaps she was struggling in her business, losing her job, her husband, her kids, her home…
So I let it go. I hadn’t returned kindness for anger that day, like Saint Chellie would have. I’d like to be the kind of person who does that. I hope I do better the next time. Or at least just respond, “Done.”
I resolve to keep in the forefront of my mind all the kind words and encouragement I get every day from my Dolphins, instead of obsessing over the rare nasty one that only comes once in a blue moon.
Do you ever feel this way? How do you respond to these things?