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6:14 p.m. - 2013-07-24
Nice is as Nice does.

Never underestimate the power of a smile and a sincere, "Thank you."

This isn't news to me, it's one of the central tenets of my life, but I was reminded afresh today as I chugged around doing some errands. Originally I'd thought this would be my futz-around-at-home day. Monday and yesterday were spent doing most odious yet necessary things involving lawyers, the ex, and the county courthouse. (Go me! For the courthouse appearance I remembered to wear the one bra I own which doesn't set off the metal detector! Being pulled aside and wanded by some gung-ho deputy and explaining yet again why the wand goes nuts near my boobs like a Geiger counter striking a mother lode of uranium and that I do NOT have a Glock stashed in my cleavage it's just my bra with the rebar supports and steel struts, well, it puts a real crimp in an already stressful shitty day.) Anyhoodle since tomorrow is booked up with Wolf things and Friday is another Pool Day at the folks' I thought I'd be a bum today. Alas I ran out of meds. To the pharmacy ASAP! Last thing I need is to instigate a wrestling match with the black dog because I had a gap in my bupropion intake.

While I was at Sam's I did a small shopping, mostly stuff for Mick's lunch. During the regular school year he eats from the school cafeteria gratis. Summer school offers no such perk. Since Mick is such a dear about doing for me- gassing and washing my car; starting the window a/c, turning on the TV and (if I hadn't bothered) making my bed so when I go upstairs my bedroom is 100% ready for me to try to get a decent night's sleep; swinging by the florist and keeping the vase on my desk stocked with pretty flowers...plus a zillion other kindnesses and helpful chores, the man is ALL about making my life sweet, during summer school I like to make him delicious fancy lunches. Super thick sandwiches, dessert treats, his favorite bottled drinks, love notes tucked into his lunchbox. Schmaltzy? Perhaps. But it's our thing. He spoils me, I spoil him. Who better to expend thoughtfulness and loving energy on than one's spouse? When I saw Sam's had just put out a fresh batch of zucchini-walnut bread and I found the half iced tea-half lemonade Arizona in lunchbox sized bottles I was a happy girlie. Add to that the eye round roast I'll do at high heat with a garlic salt coating so it comes out crusty and garlicky on the outside and nicely rare on the inside and then slice super thin for sandwiches I know he's going to love, well, my day was made.

Buzzing from scoring the yummy lunch fixings I went about with a smile for everyone. At one point there was this clueless chick blocking traffic in an aisle crossroads. Cart diagonally across the intersection, her oblivious self standing there goggling at the trays the of cookies like she'd just gotten to Earth and had never seen rugelach before and it might be dangerous, I looked over at the woman being cockblocked in the aisle perpendicular to me and give her a shrug and a "Whaddya gonna do?" smile. Immediately her scowl melted and she smiled back. Not long after the clueless cookie rejoined our reality, grabbed her cart and wandered off opening up the traffic jam. The lady I'd smiled at waved at me to go ahead. I nodded my thanks and we both went on feeling better and far less victimized by the rude space case afraid of the rugelach.

No biggie, you say? I beg to differ. There's so many other less pleasant ways that scene could have played out. I could have ignored the woman in the other aisle and left her there with her scowl. To the aisle jammer I could have said, "Yo! Cookie Monster! You wanna move your fat ass? You're clogging up my life here!" and bumped her cart with mine. I could have fumed and sighed and rolled my eyes acting like being inconvenienced for 45 seconds had ruined my entire day. I could have let being inconvenienced for 45 seconds actually ruin my day.

I know plenty of people who operate like this. I feel sorry for them.

Mick and I have a song. It started when his Uncle Frank came for a visit and no one got a word in edgewise without Frank barging back in to talk over the current speaker and/or to disparage what someone else had said. Forever *gifting* us with HIS take on things and why his way was the ONLY way to think and feel. In talking about Frank later I explained to Mick that men of Frank's generation (and not only his) had a peculiarly egocentric world view. Call it white male privilege. Until very, very recently nobody challenged this. (Side note: I did challenge Frank and left him spluttering several times. Faced down with cool logic, facts, stats, and moral decency espoused calmly and politely by an overweight woman Frank was shaken to the very core of his Republican, bigoted, sexist, California-centric 'fat people are lazy leeches on society' bone marrow.) So after a few Uncle Frank vs LA the Hippy matches where I walked off the victor Mick and I made up a song dedicated to his bonehead of an uncle.

"It's all about Meeeee! It's never about yoooou!"

At first the song was just about Uncle Frank and dudes of his ilk, but we've observed many other situations where the song applies. Jerks who refuse to merge when the lane is closed ahead and instead race up to the top of the closing lane and insist on wedging themselves into traffic believing they've 'won' by gumming up the whole works and ending up a whole five cars ahead of where they'd be if they'd merged when asked to half a mile back. Buttheads who wail and moan over such horrible things as waiting their turn, having to accept a rain check for a sold out item, being asked to turn off their phones and shut the hell up during a movie. I don't need to go on, do I? You all know the type I'm talking about. Spoiled brats, selfish dinks, fools who barge around, tailgate, text and drive, run reds, don't use their turn signals, berate waitresses and sale clerks for shit that isn't their fault, morons who believe their precious darling children are incapable of being naughty and demand teachers apologize for disciplining or flunking their kid.

Me? What can I say? Whether it's because I had zero self-esteem for most of my life, or that I'm a witch, a mother and a hippy, or it's just the way I'm built, but I've always been aware I don't walk alone. And in shared space I act accordingly. I have no power over what other people do, but what I DO have power over is how I respond to it. I can be gracious. I can be polite. I can say a nice thing. I can smile. It's my choice. Sure, I can let others run and ruin my life and my outlook by handing over my power to the rude, the crude and the thoughtless...or I can stay in my own space being true to myself and not minding or keeping score.

I do not expect the entire world to serve me and my wants. Crazy, I know. And increasingly foreign to the Me, Me, Me! types. I get it that I can add to the ugliness and demand my 'rights', but I am more selfish than that. I'm so selfish I refuse to let the actions of others ruin MY day. I do what does ME. And what does me is the power of goodness. Kindness. Patience. Making eye contact and acknowledging my fellow travelers. Standing down from the endless "It's all about Meeee!" mindset and deciding for myself what's truly important here. Getting my way at the expense of everyone around me or getting away without hostility, aggravation, and piss off. When it comes down to it I almost always choose the latter. For me. For my own peace of mind. I loathe bullshit and unnecessary conflict. And experience has taught me this: I've yet to walk away feeling better because I made someone else feel bad.

I know folk like that too.

We all know them. Those poor dopes who call themselves 'truth tellers'? The ones who pride themselves on blaring every nasty, uncharitable, unkind, self-serving thought they have and pompously donning a mantle of 'honesty'? "I'm only telling the truth!" they bleat.

Ever notice that the 'truth tellers' never say something like, "That is the BEST report I've ever read!"? They never say, "Your wedding was so much fun!"

Nope. Not the 'truth tellers'. They're too busy pointing out the spelling error on page three of your report and wearily shaking their heads over how the open bar during the reception didn't have their brand of gin.

Nitpickers. Fault finders. Happily, gleefully making digs, causing pain, and being snottily self-righteous in the name of 'truth'. Bring good snacks in for every meeting for a year and they can't be bothered to notice, but mess up with bagels instead of doughnuts just once and WHAM! The truth teller is there to complain and smugly announce their dissatisfaction. To pounce on the error. To take huge pleasure in someone else's mistake. All in the name of 'truth', of course.

To me the 'truth tellers' are even worse than the oblivious selfish ones. Bad enough our days are plagued with the fools and the "It's all about Meeee!" tribe, even if we can navigate around them the bitchtastic 'truth tellers' are there to make sure nobody gets away clean. The deliberate joy-suckers, the critics, the unkind, the ones who freaking live to pounce and find fault because they delight in others' pain and embarrassment, ugh. Those hatefully arrogant dweebs with their snotty faux righteousness, they irk the crap out of me. They are the absolute antithesis to my values. The ones where me giving a helping hand up nets me a thousand helping hands back. Where my power and strength comes from my choice to leave good feelings and pleasure in my wake and they are determined to quash that and leave pain and discontent in theirs. Sad, sick, sorry people they are. And, no, you never 'win'. Not in my book.

Think me a fool. Think me weak and unworthy. Do your best to poison the well and seed the planting fields with salt. Whatever.

Today I thanked the manager who replaced the leaking case of Pepsi with a fresh one and she went away glad someone saw her effort. The pharmacy assistant who was grateful I saw how busy she was and complimented her on being so fast to fill my order. The woman who went away humming and smiling because her day was just a bit brighter when I didn't make a bad situation worse.

What did you do today?


Closing with an oldie but a goodie, ~LA



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