01 January, 2013

The Final Straw

In early at work cleaning up and getting things ready for a new day.  Acid Jazz, is playing on the music system, and after my first coffee… I am jamming. Up on a tall standing ladder the store had, where I often clean the upper windows, and ventilation fan from spots of dust so that they don't rain on expensive furniture fabrics. The doorbell rings and I crawl down the ladder to find who is there. For some reason, I am not disturbed being taken away from my work when not open for the day, yet. I see a husband and obviously his wife first in line, with the UPS driver right behind, anxious to drop packages off and have me sign. The driver’s are notorious for dropping by with damaged packages while you are busy, so you can’t catch and refuse them. And by the looks of husband and wife team, carrying their own box, this is not going to be fun start of my day.  I decide quickly to try as best as possible not to match others moods. Touching his shoulder, and greeting them with a friendly, “I know you are first, but let me sign so UPS can leave us alone in peace.”  Jeff and his wife Katy, smile sardonically, but I can obviously tell they are ready to pounce on me with their problem. In our narrow doorway, the heavy set UPS driver like a bull in a china shop bumps into them while going past and while leaving, after I sign.  Did he do this on purpose? So disruptive to any peace I am trying to bring to this situation, but at least that is one less thing to negotiate.

Even though I still closed, I invite them to come in, seeing Jeff’s eyes a slight bit teary with anger, and Katy is pacing behind. The first thing that strikes me is I should hug Jeff(but don’t), to help show compassion at this tipping point, before speaking to them. This is S.F. and most of my clients can handle it. Anyway, I could sense that Jeff and Katy’s relationship is more the problem than whatever product they are not happy with. One of the things I sell is high-end lamps with hand-blown shades, and I could see that they are returning one by the box’s label. Often times people ask me to describe the wiring pattern or whatever problem that they don’t want to hire a professional electrician to do, way beyond the scope of selling them the fixture. Well, Jeff did it the wiring right, but really Katy hated the non-returnable fixture she ordered. He was just trying to make her happy, and his embarrassment was turning to anger almost without him knowing.  The whole thing is unraveling in how they are presenting their problem, or my new problem when they open the box to show the damaged glass globes. What they don’t know is a business owner quickly learns all the tricks. He says, “Well, I got the fixture all wired and when Katy opened the boxes for the globes found them damaged.”  Katy is looking away sheepishly. Many times, when told the real truth, I work on making clients happy by putting a fixture on the floor and getting them what they really needed. First of all, the special ordered fixtures are not returnable, and second, I personally check all boxes before giving them to the client. This lamp is Jeff and Katy’s last straw, and it is fast becoming mine.

This dream came to me last night after that final body jerk when you fall asleep, and is not of real people but like many of the problems I have encountered in life. My compassion came through in this dream, as a first reaction, and maybe it was supposed to be directed at myself. Spurred by an impatient waiter standing by me, earlier in the evening when I just got the menu. This is hell for a brain-damaged person, and by me not answering he still did not get the clue, so I just deflected him to my partner to do all the ordering. I just stared in space and brought to mind that I will soon die, and this meal will never be that important.

My father one day, decided his final straw was the ugly 70’s wrought iron divider between our dining and living room had to go. The kids loved it because you could climb up it like a monkey. This wasn’t the reason…pressure, expectations and dissatisfactions with the world were. In a shocking display of aggression he went to the garage and got a small hand held heavy hammer in front of all the kids and bashed it out of the ceiling and floor anchors throwing out the front door in the yard. Not sure if he was drinking or not, but life with him had the same flavor. At first I thought that was cool, but still embarrassed by the whole scene. My father spent the next days, not apologizing but explaining why it looks better, while postponing fixing the holes from the damage…I think my Mom fixed them. 

I am still unlearning his way of solving problems.  Awareness is the key, and silence works well at the start of a feeling of frustration, because once you speak you are more apt to spiral into unwise speech. I will go on my first 10-day Vipassana of 2556 on the 2nd, just to work on the roots of frustration(weeding to put in mildy) ...based in my body, played out through my mind.

1 comment:

Mind Of Mine said...

Woah, that ended somewere I did not expect it to. Interesting post, which has given me something to think about.

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