A little while ago, my husband saw a woman throw a cup of hot coffee into a garbage can near the entrance of Universal’s CityWalk. As in, throw. As in, the family near the can almost got splashed.
Pretty careless of her, wasn’t it? Why couldn’t she have taken one more step so she could have dropped it in, not risking hurting anyone?
She wishes you could hear about the hour leading up to said incident (how do I know? because she made sure my husband knew the full story).*
She had gone to a fast-food restaurant for dinner. The family was heading to a concert at CityWalk, and because it was late, she ordered coffee with her dinner.
Only, the coffee was cold. Like, the pot had been off for a long time. So she asked for a new cup. Which meant the entire family sat around waiting for the new pot to be brewed.
By the time she had her coffee in hand, they were running late. The coffee was finally cool enough to drink as they pulled into their parking spot, so she took it with her.
At the security checkpoint, she was told no outside food/drinks are allowed inside CityWalk.
Exasperated, she turned and hurled the cup into the trash, and was appalled to realize how close she came to splashing it on the family behind her.
How does her action strike you now?
–Yesterday, we were the minivan with a mattress strapped to the roof. No one was surprised when we accelerated gradually. But last fall, when we had 300 mini cupcakes in the trunk, no one could figure out why we took all the corners so carefully.
–My friend was ready to find a new lawn maintenance company when her lawn guy had been absent for a long time. Until, that is, she found out that his baby had been going through a series of surgeries. Maybe he wasn’t just ignoring his work after all.
–I thought another friend was mad at me, until I remembered how many intense doctor’s appointments she had scheduled this week for her daughter.
Maybe the car in front of you is being driven by someone sending a text at the red light, and that’s why he didn’t see the light change. And maybe he made you miss the arrow, but maybe it was because the text was huge and life-changing. (I know I didn’t drive my best when I found out my daughter had gotten into Joffrey Ballet’s Summer Intensive!)
So…what do we do with all of this?
My friend’s wise grandpa always taught her:
Every head is a different world.
If we intentionally start giving people the benefit of the doubt, how would our response change?
And then…how would that make us feel?
Guess what? When I choose to imagine a story that would justify someone’s erratic or annoying behavior, it lowers my blood pressure. I stop being irritated. I’m instantly more chill.
And if I actually know their story, I feel compassion instead of annoyance. Every time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on Facebook.
*by the way, the woman who threw the coffee was me.