Friday, March 03, 2006

Charm School

Zero minus 82:29 and counting. I think I might actually die if I don't pass the QE, and while that may seem a tad dramatic the idea of extending my adolescence a full year longer really is bad enough to make me consider the tailpipe as the ideal breathing apparatus.



Today was not a good day and that is the only reason I am pausing here long enough to mention it at all. Personal unmentionables aside (which is as broad a category as it is wide, and all encompassing... but WHATEVER), the day just truly sucked.

When I finally arrived at work the owner took me aside and explained to me that I had received a complaint to which I am only capable of one extreme response or the other.

I'VE BEEN FRAMED
or
IT IS TOTALLY MY FAULT, I SHOULDN'T INFLICT MYSELF ON OTHER HUMANS.

And while trying to weasel out of her what was the exact nature of the complaint it occurred to me the who and the what and the why...
(do you really want to know? I didn't smile enough)
... and the day proceeded in agonizing acceptance, which seems to be the biennial, NO, 32yearcycle zeitgeist.

(((I think the lesson is to learn to accept, with grace, mistakes made that cannot be corrected with any grace at all. Thus furthering me into my obsession with language, specifically the English language... its 5, sometimes 7 vowels... 15 vowel sounds, 21 consonants, 44 phonemes, and over 600,000 recorded words, not including slang and inflection, context or implicit meanings, the largest, least rigid language in the history of the world.... and yet to be incapable of accurate communication.

-No, I was not trying to suggest a lurid encounter.
-God that was the worst thing I could have said and didn't realize it until later.
-I knew it as soon as it came out of my mouth.


exposed

There are times when trying to correct a mistake is worse then the mistake itself. Sometimes you realize it isn't worth your time to correct anothers interpretation.

I pray for grace. I need more way,way,way more grace then I thought. )))

After I was confronted I regrouped and faced the day. I was so angry, indignant and totally crestfallen that I couldn't defend myself against attack, and yet, knew my complicity. I feel sorry for anyone who can fool themselves, and wish I could.




The owner was kind, is always kind and yet, is tried with my school-living, my inflexibility, rigid schedule, my entrenched ideas about how things should be done. I am a good server, I am fast and never make mistakes, my timing is impeccable. I read customers well but am constitutionally unable to gloss their ill-behavior and therefore respond in kind, if not worse. If you rev your engine at me I will likely kick you in the shin as hard as I am able. It is my great weakness.

Yet, a person can walk into a restaurant and treat the server in a manner they would never dare, say, at the ATM line or waiting in the grocery checkout and still feel justified complaining about the reaction of the person who serves them.

Without recourse, I faced the day. After the lunch hour slowed a couple came in, husband and wife. The woman took one look at me when I tried to seat them and said NEVER MIND, turned around and walked out the door.

I was so devastated. I felt like someone laid a hammer on me, told me I was not only a bad conversationalist but a bad kisser, kicked my dog and called him ugly, and held up a mirror to show me so. It was a moment of great vulnerability. Beat up is beat up, no matter why. Twice in one day is too many times for me.




The thing is, this woman and her husband are realtors who work at an office two blocks down. Months ago, months and months ago they came into the restaurant and I was scathingly rude to them because

1) i was having a bad day
2) i was overworked and taking 18 school credits and having a bad day
3) they did every innocent thing wrong a costumer could do on my bad day
4) i took it out on them in a bad way
and
5) they were graceful, left a decent tip and never came back

Now at the worst possible moment was my reckoning. I felt so awful. I vaguely remembered that they were employed locally and searched our junk drawer for a business card (realtors always put their face on their business card).

As soon as I got off work I drove down to her office. I pushed in before I thought the better of it. The husband and wife apparently work as a realty team because I could see the two of them in an office formalizing paperwork just off the main foyer where two receptionists greeted me. I tried to duck out, to come back at a better time but just then the woman came out, cell headset and all, to copy papers behind the receptionist desk. She paused when she saw me.

HI, I WORK JUST DOWN THE STREET, AND UM...

UM, I REALLY FEEL PUT ON THE SPOT HERE
She thought I was there to get all confrontational and fighty on her.

In times of stress I am capable of very formal speech and I think I literally said:
I JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT IT IS VERY APPARENT TO ME THAT I WAS INCREDIBLY RUDE TO YOU IN THE PAST AND THAT I OWE YOU AN APOLOGY... MY PERSONAL LIFE WAS VERY STRESSFUL AT THE TIME AND I LET THAT INFLUENCE HOW I TREATED YOU AND IT WAS TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE AND I APOLOGIZE.

She came around the receptionist desk and hugged me and got soft-faced, beckoned to her husband (who was there at every encounter but was totally clueless as I could see up close that he missed shaving several spots on his upperlip and never knew what both she and I knew) and he came out looking bewildered and I stammered for a second.

I JUST WANTED TO SAY I AM SORRY AND THAT'S ALL *shrugshrugshrug(like a nervous tic)*

and I fairly ran out the door knowing but not ever knowing that maybe she had something to say, that the receptionists were gawking, that there were people trying to sell their house staring through the window I slammed out the door biting my lip and shuttered all the way to the bookstore where I spent my weight in books to console myself. Not that I will ever have the time to read them but my defenses were down.

I thought someone once said that apologies lifted a great weight. Really, I just feel dorkier and more vulnerable then ever. And while I thought maybe I would get high on absolution and run around apologizing for every transgression mine since I kicked my first shin, I dont think honestly I can afford it and dont have the shelf space. You best get used to taking some responsibility.




(On a perkier note, I thought these chairs were really pretty after a few birthday margaritas!)

1 comment:

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