Let me start by saying we interact with people each and every day, and sometimes we don’t like how the interaction goes. Having lived a long time, I have come to understand that the problem is we, none of us, know what is going on in the person’s life who has just irritated us. There are simply too many scenarios to consider—cancer, debt, abusive spouse, lousy night’s sleep, anxiety—like I said, so much goes on behind the scenes in people’s lives. When we focus on ourselves, it’s easy to take everything personally and to get offended easily. I say this as someone guilty of just that.
Let me share a story that happened to me a few years back. I went to the market and stepped up to the deli counter to make an order. No one was there. I thought, okay, I’ll do my shopping and come back later. Well, later I went back to the deli counter and saw a couple of people running around like crazy in the back putting food on a cart and pushing it outside. Inwardly I got upset, irritated, you know the saying the customer must come first, and right then I felt completely overlooked. It ticked me off. So I gave up, feeling neglected and upset that I didn’t get my sliced turkey breast deli meat, and I showed them, they lost my purchase. Yeah, I showed them all right.
As I left the market heading for my car in the parking lot, I saw a deli counter person helping a man load the food into the back of his car. When the deli guy passed me as he headed back into the market, I said, “You guys don’t have enough help today.” He said, “Yeah, we had a last minute order that needed to get filled. It’s for a funeral for a two-year-old, and this needed to get to the church ASAP.”
Insert that moment when you feel like a total selfish jerk HERE.
Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Need I tell you how awful I felt for being resentful that my personal needs hadn’t been met by the deli department during my shopping that morning? I stopped right there and asked for forgiveness in a prayer for being so self-centered.
When I wrote the difficult opening scene for A MOTHER FOR HIS ADOPTED SON, I wanted to portray that kind of encounter where one party hasn’t a clue what the other party has just gone through, and then reacts in a negative way. But I walked a fine line of setting up my heroine, Andrea Rimmer, as unlikable if I did. I believe I found a balance by showing what she was struggling with on a personal level while dealing with the hero in their first meeting.
The set up: Dr. Sam Marcus has just come from watching his 3-year-old son have surgery to remove his eye for retinoblastoma. He seeks out the person who makes prosthetic eyes in the hospital expecting to find the head of the department. Instead, he finds a young woman. Focused on his need he comes off a little arrogant and demanding toward her. The problem is, Andrea doesn’t know this guy and she has a history of being pushed around by her surgeon father who is also arrogant and demanding. She reacts to Dr. Marcus from her viewpoint in a very negative way, and he reacts to her from his position of need, also in a negative way. Let’s just say that first meeting doesn’t go well.
If both characters had a clue what the other was dealing with in their personal lives, they would have both cut each other some slack. And that’s my takeaway for this blog. To go out into the world less focused on ourselves. Consider what might be making that prickly person who has just annoyed the heck out of you act that way, and cut them some slack. Then treat them with respect–who knows, you may be the only person to do it that particular day. Oh, and it never hurts to say a little prayer giving thanks for our blessings either.
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Until Next time, make it a great one!