The other day, I stopped by my local gourmet grocer to have a bite to eat. I enjoy eating at their shaded seating area which surrounds a large tree. I noticed a pickup truck with the engine running right next to the eating area, so I placed myself as far away from it as possible.
A couple sat down closer to the truck and seemed annoyed by the fumes. As I was eating, a woman came by looking quite sporty. She was wearing a matching black and bright yellow warm-up suit with matching sneakers. I commented to her how great she looked and she introduced herself as Millie. As we chatted away—a bit off-put by the fumes coming out of the truck—we noticed the man at the other table getting annoyed. He went up to the truck, softly knocked on the window and asked the man to please turn off his engine.
The window did not open and the engine was not turned off. He knocked again, to no avail. He sat back down, finished his lunch and left.
After some time, an enraged man got out of the car, started yelling at us about how inconsiderate we were, as he was on a very “important” international call. How dare we disturb him!
My new friend Millie got up and calmly let the man know there were fumes from his truck and that it was inconsiderate. I was standing next to her and he got in my face yelling phrases: “Go somewhere else to eat”, “don’t breathe” (which I found quite amusing). I calmly told him, not to speak to me in that tone. Millie continued in a calm, matter-of-fact voice telling him that we were only asking him to move his truck.
The longer we were calm, the calmer the man got. He then replied that if it was a less important call—if he was talking with his mother—he would have responded to the knock on his window. My wise friend Millie told him that a call to his mother was more important than any business call! As he walked away, he muttered “I’m sorry.” Now that I did not expect!
I admit, my knee jerk reaction was to yell back (yes, the New Yorker in me still exists), but because I was able to take the moment needed to remain focused and calm (and care about staying alive!), I was able to respond, rather than react. Not easy, especially when the other person’s behavior was inappropriate. Remaining in the present moment is the antidote to a knee jerk inappropriate reaction. Had I gotten angry with him, the situation would have escalated and wreaked havoc on my physical and emotional wellbeing.
Thank you Millie for being my ally in calm living. You rock!!!