Aunt Mandy and I were out shopping for my cousin's fourth birthday party. On the
way back, we stopped by a local ice cream parlor to get dessert. The place was
packed with countless people, mostly there to purchase complicated sundaes and
milkshakes on discount. A lone young lady was serving behind the counter,
working as fast as she could but seemingly falling further and further behind.
At last, she called our number. "Three quarts of chocolate chip ice cream,
please," Aunt Mandy placed her order.
"WHAT ? Three quarters of a gallon ! Do you know how HARD it is to scoop
three quarts ?" The young lady shot off like a machine gun.
I stood dumbfounded. "Isn't she here to serve us ? Isn't that her job ?" I
Aunt Mandy appeared to be equally crossed. "She's going to lash out at her
any moment ! I thought. Instead, "Is it one of those days ?" was what she asked,
looking very concerned. I was puzzled by Aunt Mandy's instant transformation.
"It's been non-stop since the morning, and I'm all alone," moaned the lady.
"I was supposed to get off at one for lunch, but the afternoon staff has yet to
arrive." She continued to unburden herself as she packed our ice cream. When we
bid goodbye, she gave us a big smile and a friendly wave.
Once outside the store, I asked Aunt Mandy why she had not told the lady off
for her rude behavior. "You looked like you were going to erupt at any second !"
"I was tempted to let loose but held my tongue, and asked myself the question
I always raise when I'm on the brink of an argument -- why did she say something
like that ? Realizing how overwhelmed by work she must have felt, my hostility
melted. It's natural to take offence if someone is rude to you. However,
blurting out how you feel sets an adversarial tone and will only make matters
worse. Dealing with difficult people is a part of our everyday life, especially
as an adult. However, there are non-combative ways which you can stand up for
yourself, without stepping on anyone's toes and starting an argument. What would
you do when someone says something unfair or unkind to you ?" She gave me a
friendly nudge as we reached her sedan.
"Some food for thought," I said. Fastening my seatbelt, I lay back, thinking.
"It isn't cool to lose your cool," sang the stereo in the automobile.