Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thanks for the Plasticware!

Tomorrow is trash day in this quaint little hamlet we call home. Imagine with me for a moment, if you will, that I call up my dad tonight (it's interesting that I call Mother "Mother", but Dad I call "Dad"; why is that, do you think?), and ask to borrow his pickup. And, assuming he allows me (which he will-he always does), I go pick up a few of you, my friends, and we sneak around town here, and heave four or five of those huge garbage cans up into the back of the pickup. Then we randomly select a house (I think I know the perfect one-it's a few blocks away from here; we did some work for them once, and they were extremely difficult to work with-to put it mildly), and we dump the contents of those garbage cans all over their front yard.

I ask you: would that be nice? Would it, do you think, be well received? I think not. I know if they, the occupants of that house, were to gather up their neighbors garbage, and dump it in my front yard, I'd be a little cheesed. To be quite honest, it's probably a pretty natural reaction. Imagine how frustrating it would be to roll out of bed on Monday morning-too early, and stumble groggily to the hall closet to grab a towel-anly to find it empty. And as you grumble your way through the kitchen on the way to the dryer (because that's where we keep the clean towels in our house-I keep forgetting), you look out that huge picture window, and stop cold. Because it looks like hurricane Katrina spent the yesterday evening playing in your front yard! And so, you grumble and complain, but ultimately, you have to throw a pair of sweats and a t-shirt on, along with those grass stained Nike's that are buried somewhere in the garage, and you have to spend an hour shoveling...garbage...before you shower and dress for work. Yeah, I have to say-I'd be incensed!

When I was 8 or 9, my aunt and her friends let me ride along with them one freezing, foggy Saturday night in December. We went to the local grocery store, and one of our giddy group ran in, and bought a huge bag of picnic supplies. Then we drove into the city (I say that like we live in a huge metropolitan area...we call it "the city" because they actually have sidewalks there), to the house of one of her friends (I think she liked the guy-in fact, I'm almost sure of it).

We then commenced to engage in a spinoff of one of the strangest traditions known to human kind (in fact, we Americans may, in fact, be the only people strange enough to actually do this). We placed perhaps 300 paper plates across the front yard, and used plastic forks as stakes to hold them down. The randomly strewn toilet paper was the final touch. In hindsight, the tableau, when complete, was markedly similar to the aftermath of the last company picnic I attended (less the passed-out, drunken accountants).

We enjoyed ourselves-just as much as I'd enjoy delivering that garbage to my least favorite customer's front yard. But the amazing thing is, the occupant of that house? He called later. And, you know what? He wasn't upset! In fact, strangely enough, he sounded pleased! He laughed, and they joked about it, and I recall thinking, "what an idiot!" Because I didn't go back and help clean it up; neither did my aunt or the rest of her friends. He cleaned it up-all by himself!

We are truly strange and complex beings. He wasn't upset-in fact, he was pleased-because, even though we inconvenienced him, and caused him extra work, he recognized that we did it affectionately, because we were thinking of him (at least my aunt was; I didn't know the guy from Adam)! And it pleased him to know that when he wasn't around, Ruth (Ha! Hope I didn't embarrass you there, Ruth) was thinking about him, and wanted somehow to connect with him (even if that connection was so absurdly forged as to be utterly ridiculous-and childish).

But, my point in all this? It is simply a reminder that, you, my dear friends, are totally in control of your response to situtations and circumstances! We, essentially, dumped a load of garbage in the front yard of my aunt's crush, and he responded positively (obviously, markedly different than the response my ex-customer is going to have tomorrow morning when he looks out the window on the way to his dryer). He chose, because of my aunt's affection, to respond positively. My ex-customer, on the other hand (because of the obvious ill-will expressed by my actions), will respond negatively (if not violently).

I have to remind myself of this periodically (quite often, to be truthful), because I, like most, am prone to react to circumstances based upon how badly they inconvenience me-forgetting that I DO have a choice! I determine my response.

And so, I pledge, to myself, to respond positively to circumstances and situations that I come up against, regardless the frustration and inconvenience! Why don't you try it too?



Anonymous said...

Its funny the scenario you described. I was actually just thinking about the same type of thing yesterday. I was driving around looking for a house for us to move into, and saw some kid out side picking wet toilet paper up out of his yard. and I recalled all the times we(me and Pj, mostly me ha!ha!) had to go outside and do the same. And I thought of how stupid we were back in the days, and how now that we are adults and have responsibility we realize how much of an inconvenience our stupidity really was. But I guess you do have a point pj. I find my self so often looking at the glass half empty when I should be looking at it half full

Katie Booker said...

You know, I honestly don't think we could call our selves Pentecostal young people if we hadn't tee pee'd a house or two! That was the free and nothing to worry about when you wake up on Saturday morning..unless you were tee pee'd the night before. Now, being all "grown up" our Saturdays have SO much more to be dealt with!!
But, even still, in my wild and crazy moments when I feel that "childish" feeling come over me..a good tee pee job always makes me feel a little better!

And you know, if I recall correctly, I even remember driving out to Kerman one night and getting your house! I don't think you ever found out it was us!! lol

Thanks for stopping by and signing my blog PJ!

PJ said...

Oh wow! All these years, I've wondered about that! Now I know! I'll get you back...

Thanks for stopping by! Come back again, ok?