Remember in The Princess Bride* when the Six-Fingered Man says to Inigo Montoya, "Good heavens, are you still trying to win? You have an over-developed sense of vengeance."? (Here's the link if you want to see it, but be forewarned that outside of the context of the movie, it's a bit violent.) I think that's my problem. I have an over-developed sense of needing to be Right.
(You didn't click on that link, either, did you? You never click! I go through the trouble of linking and then adding the html code so that it opens in a new tab and you never even click. Throw me a bone and click for once, would ya? Sheesh.)
When I was a kid, my family took a trip to Greece. I was looking out of the window of the hotel room in Athens and I saw two cars try to turn in front of the other one. Brakes screeched, the drivers rushed out of their cars and began shouting at each other. Pretty soon a crowd gathered, everyone adding their opinion and gestures and it looked like things were about to get really ugly. Then the two drivers laughed, threw their arms around each other, slapped each other on the back, got back into their cars and drove off. The crowd dispersed. No harm, no foul.
See, no one took anything PERSONALLY.
On Saturday, I was trying to pull out of traffic to get a parking place in front of a coffee shop. Another car had pulled into the space directly ahead of mine. The driver kept backing the car up until there was no room for me to maneuver into my space so I threw my signal on and tried to leave my space to get back out into traffic to park farther down. (I hadn't had any coffee.) Then the driver put her car into park, got out of her car and stood shouting at me on the sidewalk. "I was BACKING UP!" she yelled, highly indignant. "I was BACKING UP."
I guess she wanted MY space and I had really inconvenienced her by making her park one whole parking space farther away.
I had Ana (12) in the car so I didn't say anything, just waited until the coast was clear, pulled back out of my space and parked a few spaces farther down.
But MERCY, I was MAD. I said incredibly cutting and clever things to her IN MY HEAD. She was right in front of us in the coffee shop and I said some really obscene things to the back of her (you know, IN MY HEAD.) SHE, meanwhile, moved on and went about her business, poisoning the lives of everyone else she interacted with that day. (Seriously, I heard her say, "I was here FIRST" when the guy next to her tried to place his order before she did. He looked like he shared my vocabulary IN HIS HEAD.)
I was still angry when I took Ana to piano and I think this was a contributing factor to my slamming my thumb in the car door. I was SO having it out with that woman IN MY HEAD. I was using phrases like, "I'm sorry you had to walk an extra FIVE WHOLE FEET. Let me rush home because that's where I left the World's Tiniest Violin." and other...you know, CLEVER things. (Some of them were clever. No, really.)
I'm still crabby about it.
See, I think I have an over-developed sense of...taking things PERSONALLY. Five years from now, I will still be mad at this anonymous rude woman. I'm still mad over things that happened when I was in the workforce before I had kids, TWELVE YEARS AGO or longer. My second grade teacher hated me. I'm still mad at her! I'm still mad and embarrassed by the anonymous note about my dog. (That's a link and apparently, I'm going to be mad for forty years if you don't click on it.)
I've talked to a few friends about how I hold on to things because, you know, I have this uncomfortable feeling that by doing so, the rude/angry/obnoxious people WIN. Long after they've gone about their business, I'm still carrying around anger and wishing I wasn't.
One friend suggests that I do some sort of visualization where I leave the slight/memory/issue somewhere along the road. (This friend says there are a lot of overpasses along the highway acting as repositories for stressful incidents/events.) I've tried that but my need for some sort of justice for these rude and unfair people seems to trump any kind of visualization. I just can't let it go.
Another friend suggests that I won't ever be a New Yorker until, like the Greeks, I give voice to what I'm feeling at the time. I was talking to my daughter Ana about this and I told her that it always takes me a long time to think of things to say and she said the French call this, "the wit of the staircase" because it's the thing you think of to say after you've already left the room. Yeah, I'm cracking up the staircase crowd.
(As an aside, would it actually surprise any of us if it turned out that Ana SPOKE French?)
Anyway, I'm open to suggestion. How do you all let go of these meaningless, petty little annoyances instead of letting them ruin your day? (In my case, my week, my month, my decade.)
*Yes, I've been using this movie a lot lately in my writing and no, I don't know what it means.