Have you ever woken up and noticed, as you left the house, that everyone around you seems to be in a crabby mood? In Chicago, the city of ever-changing weather extremes, this happens most on rainy, dreary, and snowy mornings. Traffic is terrible, getting to work takes forever, everyone is crabby in their cars on the way there, and then everyone at work starts the day crabby as well. “It’s just one of those days,” everyone says while shaking their heads. “The weather is just terrible today,” someone else remarks. And so the crabbiness festers and infects those in its path who can’t fight it off.
Yesterday was such a day. I’m still a bit jet-lagged from our trip abroad in Ireland, as is Jim, which has made for some odd hours here at our home. I can sleep just about anywhere, anytime, but Jim has been crashing before 9:00 in the evening which has made a wakeup for him in the wee hours of the morning. It took a while to get both of us awake and ready to leave. We finally got ready and noticed that, unlike the sunny day before, the morning was grey, misting, and foggy. A little Irish weather following us home, perhaps? Jim put on his new Irish sweater and I dressed for my audition.
Lately, we have been listening to mantras and other positive influences in the car during the morning commute. I can’t recommend it enough since it starts the whole day right. We’re working through some mantras by Deepak Chopra currently and listened to them twice as Jim drove. They included thoughts about the effect of the ego. Chopra intoned about fear and anger creating tension in the body. We repeated back the mantras. As we drove, we noticed the traffic was pretty congested but consciously ignored the crabby energy rising in the cars around us. Jim yielded to a few drivers who waved their thanks. He pulled over near work to hop out and a UPS driver gave him a middle finger for pulling over, though there was plenty of room to get around. After laughing about how crabby everyone is, we parted.
The audition went well and I was off to the dermatologist for a laser treatment on a small scar (I call it “getting zapped”). I decided to get there early and make sure I found parking. Good thing I did, since the parking garage was at capacity. I got to the top without finding a spot, then circled down to the bottom. I got stuck behind a very slow and cautious driver and eventually turned around to head back up again. I stalked a lady coming out with her mother. She walked ahead and started the car while her mother slowly limped to the car. I had felt aggravation rising inside me like coals igniting a flame on this third pass for a parking space. I slapped down the fire quickly. This is a hospital facility, Christiana! Every parking space is accounted for by either a hardworking physician and their helpers or someone who needs medical care. This is why you got here early. Of course everyone drove today because of the misting rain so of course things are full. I sent a silent prayer for the limping lady and reminded myself of my latest episode in foot pain, to be repeated this coming Friday.
The parking garage was down to one elevator. The elevator was full of damp and crabby people, some of whom were probably running late. It stopped at every floor. I eventually made it to the office. It was only once I checked in that I noticed how many people were in the waiting room. A few minutes later, a man crabbed to the receptionist that he had been waiting for more than 30 minutes to be seen. The office rarely runs behind by more than a few minutes and this treatment is quick, so I assumed the best and settled into reading tweets and Facebook comments. I was taken back to have numbing cream applied then sent back out to wait for the doctor to zap me. I settled into reading again and peripherally noticed the time pass. Eventually, I was the only person in the waiting room and had been for about 10 minutes. I realized that I had been at the office about an hour at that point so I inquired at the desk. “He’s running behind today,” I was told.
“He’s running really behind!” I responded. Now the general crabbiness was starting to infect ME! No one wants to sit in a waiting room for an hour; there are many more valuable things I could do with that time! My thoughts began to get more self-centered as the minutes ticked by. I could be blogging or responding to emails if I had my laptop. I could be reading a book. I’m getting really hungry! I have a million things to do! This long of a wait is so disrespectful! I should just leave and reschedule but I’m already here with numbing cream on and that’s almost a bigger waste of time to have to come back! ACK!
It was all I could do to listen to these thoughts and remember that they were, in the end, minor aggravations and not worth that much emotion. Yes, my time is valuable but I had nothing else pressing on the books for the rest of that morning. I could wait. Besides, who am I to know the exact reasons the doctor’s office is behind? Someone could have had an emergency. They could be short staffed. They might have had to squeeze someone in last minute who had a problem. Or, it could just be that everyone is infected with the general crabbiness that’s in the air.
The doctor sincerely apologized. He quickly zapped my scar while I imagined trying to tolerate that treatment on my face. Yikes. Finished, I checked out and left to get my ticket validated for parking. A woman larger than myself spun away from the window, bumped into me hard, sent me reeling, and nearly knocked me over. My mind rushed forward with about five snappy remarks to make but I chose stunned silence instead. Why contribute to the crabbiness? She didn’t apologize and marched into the parking garage. I caught my breath and approached the window with ticket in hand. The security officer smiled and started laughing. “Would you believe,” she said,”that someone just did the same exact thing to her? Someone just ran into her and now she ran into you. And she chewed that person out!”
Yes, I thought, I can believe that. “Well, I guess I’m just trying to be like water today,” I replied, “I’m going to move around the rocks in my path without resistance. Everyone is so crabby today and I’m determined to not get crabby myself!” The security officer smiled again and punched my ticket. “It sure is a crazy day. Hope you have a great one!”
I took inventory of my day so far. Let’s see: nice morning with my husband, mantras in the car together, misty weather that I rather like, good music on the classical music radio station. An audition that went well. A doctor’s appointment that was long but then again they aren’t charging me for it since they put that scar there last summer. That skin biopsy last summer was benign after all, too. Plenty of time left to run errands and, as the lightbulb went off, inspiration to write about. The crabbiness lifted for good.
“Thanks! I will!”