As many of you knowI am a Pretentious iPhone user. It’s gotten me into trouble before butfor the most partI’m pretty happy with it. Even after almost two years I haven’t fully capitalized on all of its functionsbut between the basic Apps and the camera’s ability to take photos of Dr. John at increasing stages of drunkennessI don’t need much more.
One function that I don’t use is the calendar. I still tote around a planner to keep my appointments and my “to do” lists. There’s just something very satisfying about crossing off a task that was written in ink as opposed to simply deleting it from the phone’s memory. The pen mark slicing through the words feels amazingly satisfying. YesI bought new boxers today…accomplishment!
Recently I ran into a stationary store to pick up this year’s At-a-Glance calendar for 2010. I stopped in on my way to the office and therefore was carrying last year’s version under my arm (it’s a 13-month calendarso January 2010 is free). When I reached the check-out counter and placed down the new plannerthe cashier – a woman who looked not too pleased to be at work on this day – noted the 2009 edition in my hand.
“That will be $50,” she said.
“It said on the shelf that the planners are only $25.”
“You have two,” she saidlooking at my right arm.
“Oh,” I saidrealizing why she had doubled the price. “I’m not buying this one. It’s mine.”
“Do you have a receipt for it?” she asked dryly.
“Wellno. It’s almost a year old.”
“If you don’t have a receipt how do I know it’s not ours?” she said.
Various factors led to my response: it was a Monday morningI had no coffee in my systemmy favorite sports team had lost the day priorher monotone voice was coming off as sarcastic andmost importantlyit was a stupid question.
“Wellit says ‘2009’ on it,” I said as I held up the planner and gently dragged my finger across the numerals“and I don’t think stores carry calendars from antiquated years. It’s also tattered and clearly has been used for a long time. I’m guessing about one year. There is also no pricing label on it like this clean and shiny item has,” I addedholding up the new planner.
“Finally,” I said as I flipped through the pages of the 2009 version“you can see that someonelikely mehas written on every single day of this calendar. Of courseit is possible that even though you saw me walk into this store two minutes agoI could have crouched down in the corner and essentially destroyed this planner from 2009 by writing copious words and phrases on every single pagewith the sole motive of saving $25 on an item that is essentially useless in 2010. Although that is indeed a possibilityI can assure you this is not the case.”
Now you might be thinking“Dr. Robno one thinks up annoyingsnarky comments like that so quicklyespecially you.” 99.9% of the time you would be correct. But not today.
“Whatever,” the woman saidrolling her eyes. “Just pay for the new one.”
I gave her the $25 and walked outfrustrated at her foolishness. Imply that I’m a thiefwill you? Shame on you! I don’t need to deal with stupidity like this on my way to work.
You don’t have to be a Social Psychologist to recognize that tensions can run high when people interactespecially in dense environments. When you crowd well over eight million people onto a small island that isn’t much bigger than twenty square milesyou get the stereotype that New Yorkers are a hostile bunch. And that’s not an entirely false statement. We want things done quicklyget annoyed when people are in our way andunfortunatelysometimes we anticipate and perhaps even look for trouble. It’s as if we periodically leave the house with a preconception that people will annoy usand are therefore ready for a rumble at the first sign of effrontery. I tell my clients all the timeif you walk out your front door thinking that everyone is aiming to make your life miserablethey won’t have to. You’ll do it yourself.
And thenas I walked down the street toward my officeit hit me. She wasn’t the one looking for troubleI was. Grantedshe didn’t have any viable reason to truly believe that my ratty planner was actually theirsfor sale no lessbut other than a query with a hint of bad mood attachedshe didn’t do anything wrong. Ion the other handclearly had some out of conscious mindset of do not fuck with me todayI’m not in the moodand I will say mean things if you give me even the slightest opening. And when she gave me that openingI lurched through. Instead of simply being assertive and showing her the planner with the old year on itI turned to passive-aggression. And in my attempts to make her look like the fool I thought she wasI ended up embarrassing myself instead. Again.
Tomorrowwhen you leave the house for work or school or errandsdo a mental check-in at the front door. What are you going to expect of others? Perfect behaviorno mistakeszero sasslest they feel your wrath? If that’s how you are starting offI can pretty much guarantee it isn’t going to be a great day for you.