Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bumps in the road and other hazards to joy

Every morning Ellie and I have a ritual walk before I leave for work. As part of our routine, when C.C. is here, we stop at the paper box and pick him up a hard copy of the newspaper on our way home.

Yesterday, I put my $1.50 into the slot, grabbed the handle and pulled. Nothing happened. The door wouldn't open. Hmmm, I thought. Perhaps I need to put another quarter in. (No idea why I thought another quarter would make the difference but it seemed like a good idea at the time). I inserted the extra quarter and Surprise! I got the same result. Entry denied.

Muttering under my breath, complaining vociferously to Ellie, I turned my back on the box (and applauding myself for not kicking it) I started walking home.

Across the street, a woman stood waiting at the bus stop. She had witnessed the entire incident of the box that stole my money. I smiled sheepishly at her. Muttering all the while. "It stole my money."

I think she might have been concerned I was one of those crazies who, after losing her money into an inanimate metal box, took her anger out on the world around her. I saw her hesitation. Her slight stepping back as I walked by. It wasn't a huge movement but I was sure I perceived it.

"Oh. Too bad," she said. Warily watching me walk by.

As Ellie and I kept moving she relaxed and said, "You look really pretty. I like your coat."

What on earth did my coat have to do with losing $1.75 to a newspaper box? I kept walking, but my upbringing kicked in automatically. Always thank someone for a compliment.

"Thank you." I replied. And continued on.

A block later, I started to laugh. Why should $1.75 disrupt my day? Why should a big white metal box steal my joy? I'd just received a very nice compliment from a stranger -- and I was letting a stupid piece of steel steal my frame of mind.

I picked up my steps, lifted my spirits and walked home. Without pause, I grabbed my wallet With Ellie joyfully bouncing along beside me, happy for the extra time to be outdoors, I walked back towards the newspaper box.

The woman was still standing there. "Thank you." I said as I walked by. (I didn't want to scare her by stopping and confirming I was one of those crazies who took out their anger over inanimate objects on strangers). "I appreciated your compliment. You changed my day."

And I kept walking.

Ellie and I had an extra ten minutes added to our walk. I picked up the newspaper at a convenience store, along with a jug of milk which we needed at home.

When I left for work I was satisfied. The newspaper was waiting for C.C. and Alexis to read when they awoke. There was milk in the fridge for cereal and Ellie was contentedly sleeping on the foot of the bed.

What a great morning.

The question is: What do you allow to rob you of your peace of mind? What little bumps in the road disrupt your joy?


Anonymous said...

I just loved this story. Why let a 1.75 and a metal box destroy my day!!

I've added your blog to my favorites.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Thank you! :-)