Last Friday night my wife and I were out to dinner on a perfect evening in St. Augustine Florida. We had taken our youngest daughter and her friend downtown to walk around and shop while we walked to a nice restaurant near the water to relax for a bit. Sitting outside on a cloudless evening with temps in the low 70’s, it was ideal. It was truly a Chamber of Commerce Day.
Soft music played from a guitar, the food was wonderful, the ocean breezes were gentle and I just could not have asked for a better night. I happened to be wearing a ball cap, my lack of follicles on top of my head can lead to early spring sunburn, so sitting out in the open air it was a good choice. My hat of the evening happened to be one that carried the University of Michigan logo, and with that, we get to where the evening got interesting.
Seated at a table next to us were two retired couples, who we later found were from Michigan, I could kind of tell that before we spoke. Both men were carrying the colors of the University proudly and loudly. We carried a brief conversation with them and found that they were on a three week trip of Florida. We talked about the new football coach and how the basketball team had lost a tough game earlier in the day. That was really the extent of our exchange and we went on with our dinner as they received their menus.
My wife and I were having a great conversation when suddenly we were shaken out of it by one of the men next to us complaining loudly to the others at his table. He had ordered a bottle of wine and it was NOT at his table as of yet. I will interject here that this was one of the first NICE days of the year and the place was very crowded and you could tell that the waitstaff had not gotten used to the outside environment. The inside restaurant is quite quaint, when you open up the outside, well I am sure it puts some pressure on the service. I will also add, our service was great and we had not heard one complaint all evening.
So this gentleman, using that term loosely, called over another server and began to berate her and pointed out on the menu something that could not be made out, the only thing was, he did it LOUD! He continued to belittle the young lady with apparent joy as the others at his table slumped in their chairs. Just as he finished his dousing of the beautiful evening, his bottle of red wine arrived. If he would have waited ONE MORE minute before lambasting this waitress, he would have had his wine.
It was at that moment I turned to my wife and said, “Don’t let that be me”. “Please do not ever let me act like that” You see, I know that HAS been me before, I just never saw it. I know that there are times that I have gone off half cocked about something that in the end is really no big deal. It also reminded me of a saying;
WE TEND TO JUDGE OTHERS BY THEIR ACTIONS AND OURSELVES BY OUR INTENTIONS.
Think of that, let that rumble around for a moment. Judge actions, see our intentions. Yes sir, that is me. Now my mission is to never be that man again, it was as if I watched myself in the mirror.
I am reminded often that Mr. Carnegie also wrote a book called ‘How To Stop Worrying and Start Living’. In it he tells many wonderful stories of stress related actions and counter actions. Two that came to my mind that night were to live in daytime compartments and to analyze how much worry something is worth. Not getting his wine when he thought it should have been there caused this man fly off the handle, which is stressful in itself. So the wine is delayed? How much anxiety is that worth? Is it worth risking a friendship or how someone views you? To me it is not.
So where do the day tight compartments come in? Well, there are times that other stresses from totally unrelated activities can fester just under the surface, then any little trigger can fire them off. When they get fired off they tend to come out ugly and angry. These short little temper tantrums can cause a lot of damage. When we learn to compartmentalize our worlds, we can leave the angers or emotions from one place AT that place, and carry on our our lives in much less stressful manner.
So what is the message? Well, there a few here, the one that means the most is to see how other people act, or I should say REACT, when stress gets them. See how they look in these moments, how they sound and see the impact it makes on those around them. Then check your own emotional currents and see if that is you, at times, and realize how others see you when you decide to show your ugly side. It is not pretty for most of us, not something that we want to carry as a badge.
Treat people with respect, if they make a mistake help them get past it, help them see that their mistake is easy to correct. Encourage them and people will see you in a completely different light.My goal is to never look like the man I saw last Friday night.