Boiling. Face.On.FIRE. Five-second-long daydreams of punching someone square in the face. Screaming like a wild banshee within my mind with no sound coming out of my mouth. Chest pains. Real chest pains.
These - and more - are all emotions I have felt within the last few days. Some would say I have anger issues after reading that. I would say I am human. Granted, being of Italian descent means people assume a few things about me: that I talk with my hands, I am a good cook, and I am hot-blooded. I am not one to subscribe to stereo-types, but all of those things happen to be true, by the way!
But I am not hot-blooded in the way you know it to be - at least not anymore. I am hot-blooded in a way that makes me take those moments that make my blood boil, reflect on them, and use them to set fire to my very soul whenever I can.
Let me explain.
One of the incidents this week was just from standing in the grocery store check out line, which, by the way, is where I seem to spend most of my life. I was behind someone that needed a price check, of course, and who also decided they didn't want a particular product but sent the bagger to snag the same product with a different brand name - all while we all waited behind her. After me in line there were about four more people. The cashier was a young girl, and though smiling through the entire thing, at first seemed a bit incompetent from my perspective. "Bless her heart", I thought, in my condescending and sympathetic way. After several minutes had passed and one or two people behind me had been cattled to a different register (not me, of course, because I was in the worst position in the game of grocery check out chess), I noticed some grumbling behind me. I heard a person speak (rather loudly) to themselves, but in the cashier's direction, "Maybe they should get someone in here that knows what they're doing." There it was. I started to feel that little sizzle around the edge of the pot; not toward the cashier, but rather toward the person I heard behind me in line. As I was nonchalantly minding my own business, and showing off how people in this world SHOULD behave (insert self-deprecating sarcasm here), I overheard the cashier thank the (annoying) patron in front of me for her patience, and that she had just received the news that her mother was in the emergency room with a fever and she was waiting to hear if she would be all right.
"How RUDE of the person behind me", I found myself thinking. "If only they would put themselves in HER position and ask themselves what could possibly be going on in someone's life in certain situations, like I'm doing now, all the world's problems could be solved!!"
Immediately after that thought, I heard the same voice behind me say, "Good LORD. Can we get moving here?!?" Could she not see and hear for herself that this poor cashier was doing the best she COULD?? The sizzle came to a slow-rolling boil. But I hung in, still not looking behind me and still thinking this person should watch me at work and behave in a similar manner. How uncivilized.
One final insult flung was the last straw. "Helllooooooo. You should go back to training and learn to check people out faster." That was all she wrote. My blood was BOILING. I snapped my head around and without a thought, but with a certain je ne sais quoi and in a most-pretentious manner, I offered: "WHY DON'T YOU GO ON AHEAD OF ME SINCE YOU SEEM TO BE IN SUCH A HURRY!! THERE IS NO NEED TO BE RUDE!!" All in the name of defending this poor, poor cashier with a sick mother, of course.
And then I looked at the person throwing the insults. And I saw it: the tear-stained face; the red, swollen eyes; the puffy, shiny nose. And I shrank. What had HER day been like so far? She moved right past me and went ahead as I had suggested, and I found myself watching and staring at her. She put her items on the belt, and I noticed the ratty, used tissue she wouldn't let go of still in her hand as she did. She took out her wallet and as she counted out all the coins, penny-by-penny, almost to the last of what she owed, she began to cry. She apologized to the cashier firmly, and said a quick thank you to me for letting her go ahead. She was exasperated and in a changed manner said, "I am SO SORRY. It has been a day of great loss for me. It has actually been a YEAR of great loss for me. And I'm sorry to say I have to go out to the car to get the rest of the money. Would you mind suspending the order and I'll be right back? I am really very sorry."
I'm an idiot. I was SO READY to pounce on this person in the name of considering what others are going through, only to become a hypocrite while doing so. As she walked out, I saw her head to her car in the parking lot where there was an elderly lady sitting in the heat with the window down on the passenger side. I saw her say something as she walked up, and the woman in the car offered up her purse through the window. Though I still had no idea what the loss was she had spoken of, and could only make thousands of assumptions, my heart began to ACHE. My boiling blood turned on me, and I found myself ashamed.
I moved quickly. I told the cashier to un-suspend the order and add it to my groceries. She said, "Are you sure??" There are few times I am so sure of anything. I told her to say nothing when the woman came back and waited back in line to pay and to wait to tell her until I was out the door. I told her I'd be praying for her mom, and walked right past the (former) rude lady as she walked back in to pay.
I couldn't help myself - I glanced out of my peripheral just in time to see her look out my way, confused, and then slowly begin to walk her groceries out.
When adversity comes, I am not always the most graceful or gracious; in fact, in that particular moment when I found myself thinking I was so shiny and did a great service, I had to remind myself of why I was led to do it in the first place. I wasn't so great. I was hot-blooded and thoughtless. When I look back, there are definitely times in my life where I wish I would have behaved differently or responded better, as with this opportunity of redemption I had been given.
In these times of great and growing stress, what makes you hot-blooded? Do you let it destroy you and take over, or do you find a moment of redemption that heals you and sets fire to your soul to do better, and BE better? Only you, in those moments, can decide.
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