Thursday, January 23, 2014

Epiphanies on Aisle Six

Sometimes you might pick up more than you bargained for at the grocery store.

Yesterday my sister, a friend, and I went grocery shopping.  I needed only a few things, but they wanted to do a little more in-depth shopping, so we also used the time for catching up and gossip.  While my sister checked out the frozen vegetables, she and I chatted.  She stepped back from the freezer cases at the same time this man tried to squeeze behind her to continue his way down the aisle.  They, of course, collided.  His hand basket bumped her hard and squarely in the back and shoulder.  She immediately moved forward and said, "Oh, excuse me." As he continued down the aisle, not even deigning to look behind him to acknowledge her apology nor to make one himself, I felt myself descend into a fury I have rarely ever felt.

At that point, I literally hollered, "Well EXCUSE YOU!"  At that, he turned around and said, "What?"  I responded, "You bumped hard into my sister, didn't acknowledge her or apologize for your actions either.   You are just plain rude and I'm calling you out on it."  Suffice to say, he and I exchanged a few more choice words in the frozen foods aisle and as he attempted to follow me towards the dairy section.  Finally I moved directly into his face, told him his mother didn't raise him well and to basically get lost.

While the extent of this incident is all quite out of the ordinary for me, I have been known to make known my feelings in public places about people who are blatantly rude and insulting.  I have not, however, had the profound desire to punch a man's face so hard that his nose would be firmly lodged in the back of his head.  Nor had I visualized before, tackling a man and stepping on the center of his back and making him lick the floor and apologize for his rudeness.  I was, in short, overcome with a white-hot, irrational anger.  I wanted to hurt this person and hurt him badly.

I guess I'm angry.  I'm more than likely angry about a lot of things these days and sometimes it shows inappropriately, like my desire to injure and maim fellow shoppers on a quiet Monday afternoon.  I suppose I have a few things to be angry about, but I had always thought I did well with analyzing the things that provoked my ire, dealing with them, and ultimately resolving them.  This incident on aisle six made me very aware that there are certain aspects to my life I am not addressing properly.  I am repressing a few things that I should probably poke and prod and bring to daylight.

Since becoming an adult, one of the things I've promised myself is that I would not age into a cranky, cynical, angry person.  I want to be happy.  I want to feel, express, and share my joy about things.  I refuse to be a bitchy old person.  I refuse to hold onto anger that is best let go into the ether.  Obviously, I am failing to do that in some significant way.  My anger transformed into melancholic reflection.  I was sad that I had allowed whatever stressors in my life control me, as opposed to me controlling them.  Somewhere along the way I've gone off the rails and I desperately need to get back on.  Otherwise I will continue to morph into that which I detest most--an unreasonably angry and seriously unpleasant person.

When I feel angry, I need to identify the source and figure out a way in which to not let that thing trigger feelings of fury.  I need to just let it go and remain calm.  I have every right to speak my mind when I encounter something that I find wrong, but I don't have the right to make a scene in the grocery store.  I have to remember that I cannot control anything outside of myself.  If a person wants to act an ass on aisle six, then he will.  I have the option to not react to it, which is usually the best option.  Maybe not for the ass, because someone should school him on manners, but definitely for me.  My own opinion of my behavior is far more important than anyone else's judgment of the same.  I didn't feel particularly good after that encounter because I exhibited a sincere lack of self control.  I don't want that to happen again.  I am going to choose to not react to things or situations that I can have no real impact upon.  I refuse to let the vagaries of the world change who I am and who I want to be.  I'm stopping the angry train right now and getting myself back on track with a peaceful existence.

Maybe I should send that jerk a thank you note or some flowers.  If it weren't for his incredibly rude behavior I may have gone on a long time with this bubbling undercurrent of frustration and hostility.  Instead, he opened my eyes to what could potentially grow into a much stronger problem and allowed me to put a stop to it.  I guess one never knows what will act as a catalyst for change.  It can be something big or something as small as an jackass on aisle six.