Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lose the Attitude

Lose the Attitude - Stacy Snyder - Parentunplugged - Smiley Faces
Yah, yah, it’s the holiday season and everyone is crazy busy planning holiday parties, gifts, greetings, and travel, while bells are ringing everywhere you go and the weather is cold, grey, and miserable.  This does not mean you’ve got a free pass to wear an attitude throughout your day because you are so busy and overwhelmed.  If fact, this is the best time of the year to lose the ‘tude, as people really need a break from your snarky comments and your perfunctory ‘I don’t have time to even look your way right now’ glare as you hustle past them in your car or in your heels, or God forbid, Uggs.  Think this could apply to you?  Then keep reading.  Think of it this way…if you lose the attitude for just one day, or even just one hour, in the name of making someone’s day better, you might end up just making your own day better.  It may be a pipe dream, but there’s always wishing that you may just make enough of a difference that you change the way you live altogether.  Cart.  Horse.  Baby steps.

Today my world was slightly tinted by a small change I made in my own presentation to society at large, quite by accident, I must admit.  It started innocently enough with the normal daily flurry of activity….early-morning lunches, lessons, breakfast, drop-off, exercise and shower.  But then I took my 5-year-old with me on an errand to my new favorite store, Hot Mama, in Evanston. 

The clothing store and its employees have changed my view on shopping over the past few months.  Not a shopper by nature, and further more not a clothes shopper at all, as it’s been difficult my entire life, to find clothes that fit me well, due to my height (or lack thereof) and fluctuating weight, I was referred to the store by a friend after telling her how hard it is to find clothes.  I had taken her advice and visited the store last month, where my wardrobe and attitude toward life was given an overhaul by the competent, but not pushy sales staff.  The “I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and say something looks good on you if it doesn’t, but I will get you flawlessly clothed and feeling like Pretty Woman” attitude of the first salesperson I encountered converted me instantly.  I walked out $700 lighter in the pocket, but feeling like I had won the lottery, as the Hot Mamas not only routed me toward clothes that actually fit my own body, but also taught me what to look for in garments that would fit me well and serve as staples in my wardrobe.  I’ve felt like a million bucks ever since. 

Unfortunately, I had discovered a small hole in one of the shirts I had purchased last month, so I went in to try and get a new shirt.  I’d already worn the shirt with the imperfection, and had found, when I took it off, in addition to the hole, a series of grease stains on the front of the shirt, probably from the once-a-year purchase of real bacon, that I had fried up earlier that morning.  I was worried about returning the shirt as it was stained, but I also knew I had paid a pretty penny for a shirt with a hole in the fabric.  I was not looking forward to the exchange.  The salesperson at Hot Mama apologized for the inconvenience, unsuccessfully looked for a replacement shirt off the rack, and then arranged for a new one to be delivered to my home from another store, all with a big smile while interacting with my preschooler.  End of story.  Pleased that my issue was handled so efficiently and kindly, I left the store in a great mood, ready to tackle the 12 other things on my list that needed to get done in the next 3 hours, fully knowing there was only time for 8 of them. 

The next three tasks seemed to “fall off the bone,” if you will, and I was well on my way to accomplishing my errands.  The next stop involved street parking in Lincoln Park around lunchtime, where I came upon a gem of a space right in front of the building I needed to visit.  As I got out of the car, I noticed a delivery truck with its hazards on parked right in front of me with less than two feet of space between his back overhead door and the front of my car.  Before I had a chance to consider the implications of me parking so close behind the truck, the driver ran out from inside a nearby storefront, which was to receive a large delivery from the truck.  The delivery driver pointed out that he wouldn’t be able to put the ramp down from the back of the truck, and therefore wouldn’t be able to unload his goods, and asked me to move my car.  Glancing at the Pay to Park sign above my car, I quickly tried to figure out a solution to the dilemma of both of us needing the parking space I was currently and legally occupying.  I was within 2 minutes of being late to my appointment and knew I would never find another parking space close-by, if at all.  I also knew me staying put would cause the driver undue problems with both his delivery and his day.  After conversing back and forth for a few minutes with the driver, each of us making suggestions that the other party take action, he finally spotted a parking spot across the street that had just been vacated.   We locked eyes, as if to say, “Let’s do this thing!”  Without a word, he walked into the street, held 2 directions of traffic up, and directed me into a u-turn right into the parking space.  I got out of the car and screamed a high-five to him and praised him for being a rain-maker.  I ran into my appointment just in the nick of time with a smile on my face.

After my appointment, I walked down to my favorite bagel shop for a coveted everything bagel-thin sandwich for the road.  I don’t usually dine out and hardly ever eat bagels, so I was pumped for the treat, but disappointed to find that there were none left in the display case. 

“There’s more in the oven,” the cashier answered in response to my heartbroken gaze into the case where the everything bagels usually sit.  “They’ll be out in 3 minutes.”

To be honest, any other time, I would, without a doubt, proclaim in that same situation that I didn’t have time to wait, and rush out of the store in a sprint to get back to my meter that was due to expire any minute.  Today, though, the good vibes being sent to me all day allowed me to sit tight for a minute and chill. The bagel was taken out of the oven and deemed too hot by the cashier to load the fixins of a sandwich onto, which might have crushed me to the core on another day, as I like it just so. 

“No worries,” I heard myself say, “I’ll just take the hot bagel.”


"I gave you a discount for the wait,” she whispered to me before ringing up my purchase.

Thank you Einstein’s

I sauntered to my car with 5-minutes to spare on the meter, and headed home to dress the bagel into what I now am considering ‘the best bagel sandwich ever made.’  And all of that was just this morning.  Imagine what I’ve got to look forward to tonight!

When I woke up this morning with a slight bit of trepidation toward the ridiculous amount of junk I had scheduled into my day, I truly didn’t expect such a smooth go of it.  In fact, my experience has led me to somewhat expect, in true Debi-Downer form, that the more I have to do, the more people and places I have to touch, allowing more opportunities for clogs in my day.  But sitting here nine hours later, having floated through my day without effort, drama, or stress, or a negative interaction with anyone, I have to wonder, could I do this every day?  Is it so unlikely to expect that things could actually go my way on a regular basis?

Of course that unrealistic to expect!  But it is NOT out of the realm of possibility to anticipate that I can respond to little wrinkles and bigger issues that I encounter with more positivity and patience and less haste and attitude, thereby setting the bar for the response I’d like to get from all other people I encounter each day. 

So next time Mariah Carey is belting out that annoyingly catchy “All I Want for Christmas” from the reception area in the dentist’s office for the 2nd time in your one-hour wait for your root canal, don’t clench your jaw and promise yourself you will have someone’s job if you’re not called back into the chair within 60 seconds. 

Instead, take a deep breath and sing along or tap your foot along to the music, and look the hygienist in eye when she finally calls you back, and give her the warmest smile you’ve got in your bag o’ tricks and say, “Thank you for fitting me in.  Have a great day!”

By exhaling some positive energy, you can break the attitude you’ve been carrying around and set the stage for the type of energy you’d like to receive back in your day.