So, yesterday, I felt like a huge jerk.
Usually, I try pretty hard to be nice to people. Well, that sounds bad. It’s not like I have to TRY to be nice to people. I’m not a total ass. I do have social skills. What I really mean is that I have sarcasm flowing through every vein in my body, so I have to watch that I don’t use that against people, thinking I’m being funny-although I AM funny. Really, I AM!! Over the years I’ve gotten good at reading which people can be ‘played’ with. This just means that if they are sarcastic to me, they are usually safe to be sarcastic back to. If they aren’t sarcastic to me, then they are boring. No. That’s not what I was going to say. If they aren’t sarcastic, they are still going to get my sarcasm, it just won’t be directed at them. It”ll be carefully directed at me.
Some of my most enjoyable conversations are with people like my friend Shauna (who owns Lemon Kissed, a rad jewelry company), because she gives good sarcasm. She uses sarcasm to be funny as sh*t, but she is never mean with it. Sarcasm is not a weapon that you disguise passive aggressiveness with. Or any other mental illness. Side note: Yes, I consider passive aggressiveness a mental illness. I say this because then, if my husband ever accuses me of being passive aggressive, I can tell him to quit making fun of my mental illness. Get it?
AnyWHO. I work at a job where you have to be ‘on’ stage, so, I have to be:
- In a good mood
- Ready to entertain with funny stories
- Caffeinated up to all get out
- Looking cute, because, A. Who wants to get their hair done by a not-cute hairdresser? and B. I stand in front of a mirror all day, and I don’t want to look at a not-cute hairdresser all day
- Ready to change things up to suit the audience
Most days, I can pull off the five criteria listed above without too much thought- well, except the #4 part. I already told you all about that though. I love my coffee and I’ve always got a story up my sleeve, so most days, I’m golden. Even on days when I’m a bit under the weather, or on days that I’ve got bigger things to worry about than whether someone should have bangs, or no bangs- although that’s a pretty major decision. Or on days where I’m dealing with something stressful or frustrating. When a client walks in, it’s show time.
This week has been a bit of a different story. This week I’ve had a ton of stuff to deal with.
There’s this little remodel project that I’ve been under a tight deadline for so I’ve spent two long days taking the salon apart and then two long days working followed by painting until late at night, each night having to clean the salon up again just enough so that we can be open the next day. Then I knew that once I got to Thursday night, I also had to be ready to go camping, meaning all groceries, camping gear and clothes need to be packed and ready to go for our one big family (and big group of friends) vacation of the summer. Yes, it was bad timing, right in the middle of the remodel, but the trip was scheduled and then the flooring people said they only had three days available in July to do our floors, so I just have to make it work.
Then there’s still the on-going Mom, heart attack thing. Very fortunately, she is out of the hospital and the doctors were able to put in two back-to-back stints so her artery that was 95% blocked is open. Unfortunately, she still needs to take care of the one that is 60% blocked. It’s still a weird situation to know how to deal with, so it’s a bit stressful.
Then, to top it off, I’ve been Holy-heck-I-want-to-throw-up-sick, and I don’t have the time to just stay in bed until I feel better. First, there’s the tight deadline with the remodel, but I also am already off of work for almost a week because of my vacation and the remodel so I can’t just be missing two more days of work. My clients will revolt. They have roots, ya know? I’ve had a ton of friends and my son and husband helping, but I can’t just let them work while I go and dry heave for a few hours.
All of this is not to induce pity, Lord knows, I am not interested in being crowned Queen of the Pity Party. Just simply to say I’ve not been at my best. Not even close. I’ve tried to maintain a somewhat normal sense of humor, which has been difficult when I’m sleep deprived but trying to paint in the lines AND not throw up into the paint tray. It takes some concentration, which makes it hard to be on my “A” game.
So then, I come in to work to get some more painting done and Castor, who is all excited about the remodel, starts showing me new shelving and reception desks that he’s found online. He’s very excited but I was about as uninterested as I could possibly be as I was focusing on breathing and not heaving. I did mention that I wasn’t feeling good, and I was still trying to feign interest in what he was showing me, but honestly, I wasn’t trying that hard. I just didn’t have it in me. At one point I walked away and he just got kind of quiet and got ready to leave for the day, telling me to have a good night. Yes, I’ll have a good night, I’m going to be up on the ladder smelling paint fumes, trying to keep from turning into a puke dragon.
He left and I started painting. I’m doing the trim work, which is the slowest, worst part, and reflecting on what a jerk I had been to Castor. It’s not that I said anything in particular that was horrible, but I was short, and rude, and knew that I totally and completely owed him an apology. I stewed about it, beating myself up, because control freaks never like losing control, and I had just behaved in a way that showed that I sometimes lose it. Damn. Now he knows I’m not perfect. Not like THAT was a real possibility.
About the time I was finished with the trim and had mentally berated myself into thinking I was the worst human ever, I heard a car and looked up to see Castor’s truck. Great. He’s probably coming in to tell me he’s quitting because he can’t work for such an unreasonable witch. It was an actual thought. This, however, is where I got slapped in the face by grace.
He walked through the door and tentatively (I would have been tentative too after how I’d behaved), said, ‘Hey,’ while carrying in an armful of painting supplies. I was taken aback. ‘Hey,’ I answered. ‘What are you doing?’ He told me that he was coming to help me paint, ‘if that was okay’. Now I was stunned and horribly ashamed and completely humbled. I will admit that I might have cried. A lot. Much more than a guy is comfortable with. I don’t think he’ll ever compare me to a ‘Four-Star General’ again. I told Castor that I had been sitting there since he had left, feeling like a complete ass and knowing that I owed him a huge apology. The absolute last thing that I expected when I saw his car was that he was coming to help me. Not after how I had acted.
I have told this story at least six times, including this time, and each time, including this one, I get to this point and I’m crying all over again because he responded to my ugliness with such grace that I continue to be humbled. I would love to think that I would have responded in the same way, but I don’t know that I would have. It’s difficult enough to not take someone’s bad behavior personally, but to witness someone seeing past the behavior and responding to the person (who is clearly in Stage Four Ugly) with such grace, was about as big of a lesson as I think I could have ever have gotten. I feel humbled and blessed to have witnessed it because Castor taught me a lot about kindness, friendship and grace.
Of course I wish I could have watched that scene unfold as an innocent third party, instead of as the protagonist, but then, the lesson would not have been learned so well, would it have been?
To my friend Castor, who taught me what real grace looks like, I would like to publicly say, I am still not considering the reception desk that looked like a spaceship, if in fact it does actually look like a spaceship. I don’t actually recall what it looks like, if I’m going to be in full disclosure. But if it does, you know I don’t do Star Trek, Star Wars or anything else Sci-Fi, so a spaceship “command center” is going to be off limits. That being said, I sincerely thank you for your help, and I really am sorry for being such a jerk. You didn’t deserve that, just as I didn’t deserve your grace.
Footnote: Within an hour of writing this post, I came across this amazing article on grace that goes so hand-in-hand with what I wrote, that it was almost like God was putting an ‘AMEN’ into my life. I thought I’d share it with you too.
“Grace is having a relationship with someone’s heart, not their behavior.” ~People of the Second Chance