By P. Berman
He is coming today! I have to finish shopping! I need to get ready! But, it’s also laundry day…
Claire is almost done with shopping for the week. Then, she needs to do the laundry and get ready for her date. If only she had done some loads last night but she had been so tired after playing games with Davy outside. It had been such a beautiful day, and knowing she was going to be gone this afternoon made her feel she needed to put out the extra effort. Her Davy was never going to feel she didn’t have time to spend with him.
There was such a long line at checkout. She almost snapped at the checkout woman when it was her turn at the register. Then she noticed the button saying, “it’s my first day.” Fortunately, she was able to swallow the criticism that had felt about to burst out of her mouth. She remembered how bad she had felt when a mom had yelled at her on her first day as a hygienist. She took a few deep breaths and smiled at the young woman and said, “first days are hard, aren’t they?” The young woman had just stooped over to pick up a can she had just dropped. “I am sorry, I am so clumsy. I will get someone to replace this.”
Oh, no, this would take more time. But it was Mr. Carson’s favorite can of baked beans.
Claire swallowed her impatience, Mrs. Carson was making franks and beans for dinner so she couldn’t leave the store without it. The young woman looked so stressed out. Claire said, “I have noticed that if I slow down, I’m not as clumsy. I think everyone drops things when they are going too fast.” The young woman looked quickly around and then whispered, “the manager told me the last checkout person was fired for going too slow.”
The manager should not have said that. It was just going to push this woman to make more mistakes before she learned the job. Claire tried her best to be helpful. “I think that the first few days, you have to go slow. Then, you probably will have learned what all the keys stand for, how to check the produce costs, and you get faster. That person who got fired probably had been on the job long enough to have been going faster.”
It had taken a lot of effort for Claire to speak up. But she was glad she had. It looked like twenty pounds had fallen off that woman’s back. She was standing up straighter and was actually going faster. Claire wondered if fear had been interfering in her doing the job well. It was hard, to always be aware of how she was affecting other people. But seeing that young woman smile at her, and look more self-confident, was a type of reward.
It seemed like everything today was going so slow today but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Maybe, she would have missed important moments with other people today if she had kept rushing.
The parking lot was jammed with cars as Claire packed the trunk of the Carson’s car. When she got in, she realized that she was forty-minutes behind schedule. She wouldn’t get home on time to do the laundry before Craig showed up.
Don’t freak out. It’s okay. You can handle it.
Claire practiced saying calming things to herself, like Dr. Berman had taught her. In a few second, her anxiety had been stopped in its tracks. Her brain was working again. She realized that when she got back from the park at 5, she could collect all the laundry before dinner. She could make a game out of doing the laundry after dinner. She could let Davy “help,” it would take more time, but it would be their evening play time. Whenever Davy stretched to put clothes in the washer or leaned in to get clothes out of the dryer, Claire could tickle him.
From being anxious, Claire was now feeling great. Slowing down and being more aware/mindful of what she had been doing led her to engage in helping someone else. She had remembered the pain of being yelled at her first day of work, when she was doing her best. She had used the memory of this pain to get herself to reach out and help someone else. Now, thinking about that day, and that mother, was going to make her smile not cringe.
It isn’t easy to notice what is going on around you, when you have so much to do.
Consider taking a moment today and notice if there is anything you could say or do to help someone else.
If you do it, notice how it influences the rest of your day. Or maybe, even events much later, like whenever Claire was triggered to remember her first day at work.