Turning insignificant into loved

I started working at a clothing store as a part-time job recently. And kind of ‘just because I wanted to do it’. I had never worked in retail before this, and I had often felt that I might be well-suited to being paid to organize and fold stuff (something I already do when I go into stores as a customer, anyway, but, of course, not for pay). So, I am giving it a go.

Walking to the store today to work, I had geared up for the pouring rain: Waterproof boots, a long raincoat, backpack waterproof cover, and an umbrella. The only thing not covered directly by waterproof material was my sweatpants – odd how that is singular yet not…. a single item of clothing, yet referenced as a plural for its two legs… yet we do not reference a shirt as plural for its two arms/sleeves…

Anyway, so, I am being very careful as I walk on the sidewalk. It is placed directly beside the road, with no buffer – genius, I know (meaning What idiotic brain fart planned this sidewalk?). Whenever I come up to a spot where there is a puddle in the road, I quickly run a large arc away from it, before joining back with the sidewalk, doing my best to avoid any possibility of being splashed by passing cars.

Just after I cross the train tracks, when there is nowhere to arc , and I am just running in a straight line to pass a puddle, a single car comes speeding up from behind me. There are no other cars around, and the car easily can move into the left lane and avoid hitting the massive puddle on the right lane… and the bright yellow individual who cannot be considered invisible right now.

The car does not move over. I notice just in time to jump forward and pull up my legs as best I can in front of me.

Almost my entire left pant leg, and some of my right, is suddenly soaked, completely through to my skin. My leg is actually dripping wet on the left.

I curse in an outraged yell, as I continue on my way, somehow embarrassed.

After setting everything down in the back at work, I change into my regular shoes, and head out to check in, eyes already beginning to burn. The moment she asks me how I’m doing – the standard check-in – I starts to cry. I cannot help myself.

I’m okay, but I’m not okay right now, I manage to say a couple times. I explain briefly what happened and that my pants are currently soaked through, and that, as I am now seeing with clarity, I am not only physically uncomfortable, but I am living in the experience of having been unworthy of being noticed. Insignificant out on the street, thus completely missed by the driver. That was my experience, no matter what logic told me, and I was still processing that experience and all the emotions that went with it.

She got it completely. Do I want to go change? she offers. I don’t have anything to change into, I reply, still in active tears.

“Okay, do you want to go pick out some pants?” I hesitate, considering how it doesn’t work for me to go buy something for myself right now.

“I’ll get you some pants,” she clarifies at my hesitation to respond. “Go pick something out from the sales rack, and come check back in with me, and I’ll get them for you. And then you can go change.”

And so I did. And she did. And I changed into dry, fancy, brand new pants. And the world was suddenly a lot easier to take in when I was no longer soaking wet and mentally preparing how to survive the next five hours as such, and somehow be in a good mood and help people and walk around with ease.

I checked back in with her once I was changed, expressed clear and direct gratitude for handling the situation so well – so immediately and so effectively – and for creating a space for me to clear things up for myself by removing the strong physical discomfort aspect of the situation. (Think how we are miserable and can’t function properly when we are super hungry, and then our brains suddenly work again after we’ve gotten the needed nutrition. Better yet, think about how a bull or horse will buck and buck like crazy, even after the cowboy is off its back, until that miserably tight burr strap is loosed off its hindquarters.) It has been a no-brainer for her, and she was glad to have been able to help clear it all up for me. After all – and she didn’t say this, but we both know it – I can serve the store and its customers best when I am at my best… and wet and miserable is certainly not my best. So, it was beneficial to the store for me to have the new pants, more so than just the cost of the pants, but for the cost of all the customers with whom I would come in contact the rest of the day.

I don’t know if she bought them herself, or if there is a budget for the store to be used for such odd, here-and-there occasions. And I’m okay with it either way. I am nonetheless grateful that this person considered such a solution, whatever the details of it, and made it happen. And immediately. It made a world of a difference for me, and I was and still am extremely grateful.

Plus, I actually really like the pants. They were comfy to wear, and they are a really pretty color. Thank you, K. You turned a terrible experience into a lovely and loving one. And I am grateful.

Post-a-day 2020

Automatic Reactions taking over…?

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about automatic reactions.  Not just things like ducking when something comes flying at your face… I mean mentally, emotionally, and with words and such.  Like how  I automatically smile and am happy when I see a cute little kid laughing and having fun.  Or how I am filled with a sense of ease, calm, and peace when I feel that warm sunshine against my skin on a cool day, or that refreshing breeze on any day.

The one part of automatic reactions that has been most on my mind as of late had been physical discomfort.  I have been noticing how, if I am physically uncomfortable, I am automatically in a bad mood.

My morning started beautifully the other day, but the weather was much warmer than I understood it to be before leaving the house.  So, as I grew more and more sweaty underneath my coat and many layers, carrying my heavy bags (which were mostly heavy due to the water I’d brought to keep myself hydrated and thereby comfortable throughout the day), hiking up the large hill to work, and my wool sweater began to scratch me through my shirt, I grew increasingly more irritated, even to the point of starting to curse at my clothes and bags.  Now, I recognized how this all was automatically happening, and so caught myself before actually cursing, but I’m rather certain I had the words starting to roll out of my mouth when I did hit pause on the affair.

Another recent example is my everyday response to my work-empty (the opposite of work-filled) days at work.  At work, my desk and chair do not fit me, and it is uncomfortable to spend more than ten-ish minutes at my desk.  I get rather irritated whenever I spend time there, even if I started out working on something I enjoy.  Just thinking about having to sit at my desk all day with nothing else to do (as in somewhere else to go) gets me into a bad mood.  I’m not even in the chair, and my mood is already in that automatic reaction to the physical discomfort.

When I need to go to the bathroom, and people try talking to me and starting up conversation, no matter how I make the effort to be in the conversation, I cannot be.  My entire focus is on the thoughts of Would you please just shut up and leave me alone, so I can go to the bathroom?!  I am irritated, impatient, and sometimes even a bit rude out loud.

Now, this does not mean that I am always rude or mean to others when in physical discomfort.  Just this week, I was quite uncomfortable, and even somewhat concerned by my intense need for a bathroom while walking home with a friend.  I was aware of my discomfort, and my automatic response to the discomfort.  I remained kind and loving with the friend, however it was a strain.  I noticed how, underneath my skin, I was raving, almost screaming, I was so bothered.  The friend was even laughing at the goofiness I attempted to bring to the situation of my bathroom need, but I was not – I couldn’t find humor or ease in it, no matter what I did.

We are able to be angry, upset, and annoyed automatically and intentionally when we are not in physical discomfort, as well as we are able to be happy, calm, and joyful at those times.  I think we can have the same apply to when we are physically uncomfortable… I just haven’t yet figured out how.

How can I train myself, my brain, to react comfortably to physical discomfort?  When my pants are too tight or my shirt is itchy, when I need to pee or need water desperately, how can I set myself up to be not only okay but to be happy, joyful, or even just calm and at ease?  I guess the best way is to see what conversation is happening in my head whenever these discomforts happen, and inquire as to how to ease that conversation’s stress… and, over time, the conversation might disappear altogether, and the automatic negative response no longer occur… perhaps, anyway, but Imma go for it, just to see!

This is my goal right now.  Feel free to jump on board, and try it out for yourself; I think it’s an intriguing essay*, well worth the effort.

 


*Definition of ESSAY (Taken from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary)
transitive verb
1:  to put to a test
2:  to make an often tentative or experimental effort to perform :  try
essayer  noun

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