Monday, January 13, 2014

Tell me a story


by The Urban Blabbermouth

Last week, I was in Wendy's for lunch.  The lady behind the counter took my order and took a long time to get my food.  I was annoyed.  What a slow person!  What's wrong with her. Come on, speed up.  I got angrier and angrier.  Why was she so slow?

I felt a strong desire to say something nasty to her about how slow she was.  I paused.  I have learned, the hard way, that angry remarks are not helpful and only make the situation worse as the other person also gets angry, feels the need to defend themselves, and to say nasty things too.  So to avert my angry remark, I started to think of a reason why this lady would be so slow.  I stared to make up a story about her.

I saw her as a single mother raising a child on her own, say a little five year old girl who has the makings to become the world fastest lady runner when she grows up.   The mom is working two jobs and has spent the last eight hours on the first job.  This is now her second job and her twelfth hour of work for the third straight day.  No wonder she is so slow.  She is really tired from doing something very admirable, two jobs to support her child.  Now this story has many holes such as how to account for her child's father. Maybe a deceased war hero?  There are some practical problems too, like who is looking after the child while her mom is at work for sixteen hours?  It doesn't matter because that little bit of story was enough to ease my anger.

I suppose that I could have taken a more negative turn in my story. I could easily make up a story where the lady was out all night dancing instead of being home asleep because she had to work the next day.  This would have made me angrier.  How irresponsible can she be, putting her pleasure above her work and thus endangering her job?  Maybe she lives with her family and does not need this job so she sees no downside to behaving irresponsibly.  Ugh, this one makes me angrier and angrier.  Definitely leading to some nasty words.

I wonder if other people make up stories too.  Next time I see a person on the street begging for money, I think I will stop and ask, "Tell me a story about why you are here begging."  Let's see what they say.  I hope they appreciate the value of a good heartbreaking story.  It will get them a bigger tip from me.

I never really know what is happening in other people’s lives.  When I am missing information, I make up stories to fill in the gaps. This goes on in my head and I do this unconsciously.  Nobody knows what story I have created and sometimes that includes me.  The stories I make up tell a lot about who I am and how I see the world.  Is it my natural inclination to make up pretty stories because I think that people are naturally lovely?  Maybe I am more fickle than that!  If I am feeling happy today, then I will make up a beautiful, sweet, heart-rending, warm, and loving story.   Just do not catch me when I am cranky or have not yet had my morning coffee.