Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 18, 2004
This Is Alarming
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 18, 2004 – There is a saying of which I’m particularly fond – “The more people I meet – the more I like my dog”. Augie is a wonder dog so it’s not difficult to like him – nonetheless he is a pooch.
My conversations with him tend to be one-sided and are almost always related to bickies, walkies, bathroom parade and bedtime. He doesn’t whine, complain, prevaricate, exaggerate, deceive, double-book his time, forget to return calls or generally make a nuisance of himself. What you see is Augie and what you get is Augie. So, why I ask, can’t people be more like him?
Lately I’m finding I really loathe people – I dislike almost everyone. Not in an active day to day way – more like a rather strong and determined undercurrent. I’m having regular fantasies. No – not me with Richard Gere – but me with a weapon in my hand. This is not good. I work in sales. My livelihood depends on my ability to get along with people. This is a tad alarming!
I must be able to educate, guide, support and motivate my clients. I sometimes wonder these days if my clients can tell that I’m turning into a deranged, old broad. Maybe they’re working with me because they’re afraid not to. Perhaps they have visions of me stalking them. Really, if truth be told, I’m blessed with wonderful clients, who for the most part, appreciate me and my professional style. So it’s not my clients I dislike and I do cherish and appreciate my friends and family.
So – sadly – it really comes down to almost everyone else. The people who are bugging me are crazed drivers, inconsiderate goons on the sidewalk, people who talk in the movies, cyclists who think the rules of the road don’t apply to them, obnoxious people in line-ups who yell at cashiers, restaurant patrons who blame the waiter because the chicken teriyaki is gone, people who don’t clean up after their dogs in the park, most politicians and the great masses (of whom I’m one) who believe their lies, corporate scoundrels and crooks, religious fundamentalists, anyone who abuses children or animals, mean-spirited and small minded people, inflexible people (I may be in trouble here), stingy people, people who carry a grudge, stupid people, insensitive people, snobby people, angry people, rude people (they are legion), fanatics of any stripe, braggarts, cheaters, liars, insincere people, manipulators, people who don’t keep their word, users, indiscreet oafs, takers, schemers, blamers and vile-tempered bullies.
Goodness, who is left? Well, upon further reflection we have kind people, generous people, those whose give freely of their time and talent, funny people, successful people who help others, thinkers, honest people, respectful people, honourable, patient and loyal people, flexible, friendly and sincere people.
These good souls are the counterpoint to the aforementioned list of buffoons who populate our lives. It’s been said that the things we despise in others are the things of which we are all capable. Perhaps the trick of surviving frustrating interactions with people who twist us into pretzels is to look at the situation, remember a time when we behaved badly and renew our resolve to conduct ourselves with kindness, dignity, clarity of purpose, truth and love.
I wish it was as simple to do as it is to say. The design of the human journey is to gain wisdom as we age and life without challenge would certainly be dull and inconsequential. One of these days (not tomorrow) but one day, I’m going to smile at a jerk and wish him well. I’m hyper-ventilating just thinking about the possibility. I know I have this generosity of spirit within me just waiting to break out. The alternative is that I may soon be arrested – so let’s hope for the warm smile and hearty wave!