There I was on the telephone with my county treasurer’s office, holding in my hand the threatening letter they’d sent because my annual application for a business license had been two days late, and, according to their records, my 10% fine had not yet been paid.
I had paid it, of course, immediately after receiving the notice. In fact, by the time I made the call, I’d paid the county a whale of a lot of money, which my bank had verified in a phone call. Every person I spoke to had admitted that checks took days and sometimes weeks to post, and mine could well be somewhere between the vendor who collects them and county accounts. Still, the letter had gone out, regardless.
I don’t want to rail about being forced to buy a license to sit in my pajamas and stare out the window–all too often a day’s work for a writer. I won’t even shout that I pay the same percentage rate for my license to daydream as hotels and real estate agencies pay to do business, and more than shopping centers and restaurants. Or even to point out that when they “threatened” to seize my property, I invited them to help themselves to all my pencil stubs, half-used legal pads, even my dog-eared thesaurus. (My imagination? No, I’m keeping that, thanks.)
The license snafu has ended for the year. During phone call number six I was told my check had arrived at last, dated just as I’d told them, and all was forgiven.
Except, apparently it hasn’t been forgiven, since the episode is still on my mind.
You see, I have “forgiven” the employees who were just doing their job, if not quite the elected officials who feel unjustified threats are a good way to keep business in our county. But the person I’m having the most problem forgiving? Me.
Sometimes my temper just gets the better of me. I don’t walk around angry, thank goodness, although we all know people who do. Many times I’m patient and forgiving. But sometimes? Not so much.
We all have our triggers, even the calmest among us. Life’s full of reasons to get upset, and these days, the newspapers and televisions are filled with people shouting at each other, egged on by talk radio hosts, smirking politicians and every bystander who has a microphone thrust to his lips. We’re so busy whipping each other to a frenzy that we forget we’re all in this thing called life together.
This morning I found some good advice on the Internet to help me stay calmer the next time I’m treated unfairly–a huge trigger for me–or when somebody doesn’t do his job the way he should to my detriment–another trigger. Not surprisingly, the most important point for me is to recognize triggers for what they are, then avoid them. In this case, I should have let someone else make those phone calls. Or I should have put the facts on paper, then sent them to the appropriate person, after a calm, rational editing process, and avoided conversation altogether.
Another good point? Reminding myself that this, too, shall pass. Most likely the source of my anger will disappear in the foreseeable future, and all the time and energy wasted fretting and fuming will sadly be gone, as well. Instead of obsessing, I can picture myself on a sunny beach, a warm breeze wafting over me, a frosted lemonade in my hand. Wouldn’t that be a whole lot more fun?
And last for this blog? Empathy. A Leisure Arts executive who worked on my Quilt Along With Emilie Richards books, always ended her emails with: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And maybe, even if they aren’t fighting hard battles right at the moment, they will be soon, so they need a break. Now is always a good time to be kind.
I think it’s important to stand up for what’s right. My challenge is to do so gracefully and calmly, even when I’m fuming.
So bring it on!
Umm. . . I don’t know, what do you think? Maybe I still have a ways to go?