Thursday, September 23, 2010

Surly Girl

So I woke up this morning in a pretty good mood. I got a great night’s sleep and actually heeded my alarm when it sounded, so I got up in plenty of time to drink my coffee and eat a proper breakfast. I even had time to wash and dry my hair. Hey, people – believe me – these are accomplishments to be celebrated!

But all morning people and circumstances have been threatening to piss me off and change my mood to surly. And, sure, okay, I get the notion that we’re in charge of our own happiness and only we have the power to turn a mood from sunny to surly. But some days it doesn’t take much.

My first aggravation was that I drove to work practically on fumes because I didn’t fill up the gas tank last night. Why not? Well, because we had a tornado warning on my drive home and I was afraid I’d be swept away to Kansas or somewhere still hanging on to the gas pump if I dared stop at the Quickie Mart. So I figured I’d get up a few minutes earlier this morning and fill up without the threat of encountering the Wicked Witch of the West.

But…I forgot. Apparently once my car brings me safely home, I completely forget about it until I head out the next morning. My bad.

Anyway, driving on fumes stresses me out. I’m guessing it’s a flashback to my rookie driving year when I ran out of gas in the not-so-great part of town and had some tense moments waiting for my dad to come rescue me. I didn’t, by the way, know that the car had run out of gas because the gas gauge didn’t work. (“I don’t know, Dad…the car just broke. Sniff, sniff…help!”)

So I rarely allow the tank to dip below a quarter full even though I’ve never since owned a vehicle without a functioning gas gauge.

Fortunately, I wasn’t stranded by the side of the freeway, which is a good thing because I don’t have one of those little emergency gas cans stowed in the trunk of my car. No reason for it – right? So that was the first aggravation.

The second one was, well, a conglomeration of annoyances. Let’s just call them “stupid drivers.” Evidently there was a whole bunch of rookie drivers sharing the road with me this morning. Either that or they’ve simply forgotten that their vehicles come equipped with things like turn signals and that red lights mean “stop.” Plus, I’m pretty sure that driving while texting has been banned around these parts and is punishable by death. Or should be.

So I practiced a lot of defensive driving and managed to make it to work safely. My good mood was once again restored, although it was beginning to fray just a bit around the edges.

And then I got to my office and opened my e-mail only to discover a number of messages from irate customers who did not receive their orders when they expected them. Now, first of all, it’s not like my job involves administering anesthesia so that the patient doesn’t wake up in the middle of brain surgery. Nor did I ever have to swear an oath to serve and protect. It’s about dog bones. Only dog bones, people. No need to bite my head off.

Now, having said that…I should also state emphatically that I take my job seriously and believe that I should put forth every effort to make the business run smoothly. I understand what it means to go the extra mile. My response is immediate when a task arises. I follow up with people. And I never assume. If something is not working correctly, I try to figure out how to make it work better and I act on it. I don’t expect a pat on the back – I’m simply doing the job I’m paid to do.

So believe me when I say it makes me want to smack people who slack off and don't take their own responsibilities seriously. And I don’t think I’ve ever smacked anyone in my entire life. (Well, okay, except for that one time in fourth grade when I swatted Tony Montini on the arm. But he started it by socking me in the stomach. Turned out he liked me. Boys…)

Anyway, it’s just plain frustrating to do my best only to have someone else drop the ball. And then I’m left to do the apologizing. I don’t like apologizing when I haven’t made the error.

If I could have, I’d have gone home, hunkered down under the covers and hope that tomorrow is a better day. But since that wasn’t an option, I took off for lunch.

I drove to the gas station and filled up before heading to the park to enjoy my salad in the sunshine.

And then I realized something.

This morning wasn’t that bad. After all, I got to work safely. And I didn’t run out of gas. And despite those despicable texting drivers on the road, I saw no accidents and no one got hurt. And after tap-dancing my way through numerous apologies, I managed to restore relations with formerly irate customers.

Not only that, but I’m fortunate to have a job and I have God-given abilities to perform my job well. And I have a few bucks in my wallet that allow me to fill up my gas tank without having to decide between that or eating a meal.

So…sheesh. I’ve just ruined my own surly girl mood. With all those blessings on the table, I pretty much have to make the choice to be happy.

Even if there are texting, red-light-ignoring, blinker-less stupid drivers on the road.

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