Shaking and Then Shaking it Off

Some people may think that being out here at Our Little House in the woods saves me from having to deal with people in the outside world, but the truth is that I have a lot of interaction with people as a freelance writer.

I’m constantly calling people on the phone, if not meeting with them in person. I love learning and consider someone I’m interviewing a subject matter expert on whatever topic I may be writing about on any given day. I would even characterize most of my interviews as fun.

However, I am somewhat secluded from the outside world and I wrote last month about how I believe that quiet and peace has hopefully, made me a better person and a better friend.

I’ve also found that peace and seclusion works both ways and has made me less tolerant of the 1 percent of fools I have to call who aren’t very pleasant. Friday started off with one such phone call. An attorney returned my call, so I was not expecting his call at that time and was working on another piece when he decided to grace my day with his presence.

It took me a few seconds to pull up my notes on the article for which he was calling. I asked him to spell his name for me so I would have it together with my notes, and more importantly, on my interview tape, he decided to take at least 2 minutes from his precious time to inform me that I had the spelling of his name in a previous email, inform me that when he makes a call he is prepared and tell me how important his time is.

I felt my face get hot and my hands shook. His time was not the only one that is precious, but I also take great pride in the fact that in over a decade as a full-time professional journalist, I haven’t had one correction attributed to a story of mine in any publications for which I’ve written. I bit my tongue and as much as I hated to have to talk to him again, I decided the safest thing for me at that point was to move past his rudeness and schedule the interview for Monday morning.

It took me quite awhile to calm down.

However, my afternoon was countered with an act you can only usually find in the country these days. On the way to cover a meeting for the local newspaper, I realized Dale had left the hood to my ’88 Blazer ajar. It was hot and I was in a hurry as I was running characteristically late, but I was afraid the hood would fly up before I reached my destination, making me all the later and possibly causing damage in the process.

I stopped in our very rural area to get it firmly closed and before I even returned to my vehicle, a passing neighbor (i.e. someone who lives within the 10 mile radius or so that makes up our rural volunteer fire district) and his wife had already stopped to ask if I needed assistance.

I decided the day balanced itself out.

While still gruff (I can handle gruff, rude I cannot handle), the attorney was better during our second encounter yesterday, even offering to send me additional information for my story.

Maybe he was having a bad day or his pet had just died or something. Who knows what sets people off? But it does remind me that while I still must deal with people outside of Campbell Town, that whatever their problem is, it isn’t personal to me, so I should not let it ruin my day. It also reminds me to count the blessings of the people we have, or encounter, who are kind and thoughtful to whatever type of a day I’m having.

If someone sets you off, particularly in the morning, how do you keep it from ruining your entire day?

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16 Responses

  1. Wahah, this cracks me up because I am a seeker of simplicity — low stress — the good life, but yeah, there are days when I call up my sister and say, “I hate other people.” 🙂

  2. Cindyt says:

    How true! It is lesson the Lord has sent us when people are ugly to us. I have certainly, had some GOOD Lessons lately. 🙂 I refuse to allow others to rain on my parade. Maybe a short shower but never all day~CT

  3. S.A.B.L.E says:

    In my job, I often have to deal with customer service problems after hours. Some of these people can be really ugly. Thing is the problem of being without power because they didn’t pay the bill is not my problem but I sure do catch their frustration. Some of them can really ruffle my feathers but I get over it alot quicker after years of dealing with it. But I do take delight that after so many years of hearing the stories, I still get surprised by something new.

    Hang in there!!!!!

  4. Thanks Kerri, for your honesty in covering this. As a journalist, I need to talk to people all day long; yet I am shy and anxious by nature and often have to gear myself up to make a call. If someone responds unpleasantly it can set me back attitude-wise all day. I’m going to try your approach of focusing on how it all balances out.

  5. Heather says:

    Great attitude, Kerri. Our days do tend to balance themselves most of the time and we can usually find the positive in them if we look for it.
    Congratulations for doing that.

    • kerri says:

      Thanks, Heather. I try to remember that “like attracts like,” and if you can’t shake it off, it will only attract more of the same.

  6. Kathleen Winn says:

    I spent most of my working career dealing with attorneys and they can be the most demanding, petulant people on the planet. (I’ve heard it’s the same with doctors.) However, I also met a lot of wonderful, decent lawyers who were as gracious and considerate as anyone you’d ever want to meet. You definitely have the right attitude though, Kerri. I’m not always the best at being able to brush off insults or offensive remarks, but your blog is a good reminder to not let anyone steal away my own sense of happiness and well being. Life is too short to give up any of it to rude people.

    • kerri says:

      Yes, I’ve dealt with some wonderful attorneys in the past, Kathleen. I think they have this “time” thing going on because they work at a profession where they can charge by the billable hour.

  7. Alexandra says:

    With B&B guests I have learned to let the words roll off me and answer “sure” to whatever crazy thing they want, within reason, of course. I find my husband is good at deflecting my anger when it does rise and reminding me that this phase of our life will not last forever.

    • kerri says:

      I think I would have to have a lot more patience to run a B&B, Alexandra. Being rude to me in m own home? Yikes!

  8. Thanks Kerri, for remind me this day too will soon past and we will be wearing smiles together.
    Too much going on in our lives can cause us to be short when we don’t want to be. Good post.

  9. Susan says:

    I have worked retail off and on throughout the years and you always have rude customers. Always someone who is not happy to begin with. But one incident that comes to mind happened to a fellow employee. She was working on the registers because we had gotten really busy. Anyway this one customer got mad at her because she was not fast enough (Angela had worked for the company for years and was fast) and says to Angela “Hurry up, some people have to work for a living!” Not sure what I would have done had I been at the register. Might have lost my job that day 🙂 Rude people sure can ruin your whole day if we let them….and I have in the past. Now I just wish that person a great day and go about my business.

    • kerri says:

      Retail is possibly the worst for dealing with rude people, Susan. My mother worked at a pharmacy/store in her later years. She said there was this woman who always had a scowl on her face and never replied with more than a grunt. Mom made it her mission to see if she could ever get the woman to smile. It was a great accomplishment when she did!