Once a week, I talk and pray with a close girlfriend from college, aka hot mama. Our accountability relationship has been such a huge blessing in my life. Monday night after we finished praying, she verbally gave me permission NOT to be OK. She sensed in my voice a masking of deeper emotions. As often is the case, she was right. I cried in that conversation and the repercussions of raw emotions being released have had affect all week. It’s good to be real.
Yesterday while the boys were both in school, I picked up some groceries at Trader Joe’s. I think it a rule that to work there you have to be somewhat hipster and give off good vibes. The girl at my register was also super friendly. As she scanned my items, she asked with enthusiasm, “How are you on this fine morning?!” Most people appreciate friendly customer service. And it was objectively a very fine morning. She probably has made lots of customers smile, friended them on Facebook, and brought about world peace in one shift. I, in my all too honest way, said with little to no enthusiasm, “Ok.”
Super friendly girl (SFG): “What? Just ok? Why is that? Why not good?!”
Me: “Because I just want to buy my milk and go home, but you are forcing me into an uncomfortable conversation that I don’t want to have with a stranger.” JUST KIDDING. What I really said was something sort of like, “Yeah….”
SFG, testing out a possible career in counseling: “Is it work? Things going badly there?”
Me, wishing she had geared the conversation to the great price of bananas instead of my mental health: “No. I stay at home.”
SFG seeing me without kids and wondering what the heck does a person do who just stays at home: “Oh.” (crickets chirping for a few minutes which feel like an eternity)
She finally finishes the task at hand while I tried to compensate for my mood-killing by commenting on how she did a great job fitting it all in my one bag. She perked up and went on very bubbly about how those red canvas bags are great in fitting all kinds of things in several inventive ways, etc., etc. “Well, hope your day gets better!!”
Next time, I will fake it. I used to think you should always be honest when people ask you questions, especially the customary, “How are you?” But there is a time and a place for truthful answers beyond the customary, “Fine.” One such time is with your close girlfriend from college. Trader Joe’s check out line is NOT one of them. I should have just said, “Good!” and saved myself and the poor SFG some awkward moments. So if you think someone is fake, give them some credit depending on the situation. On the flip side, if you think someone in your 2-minute window of interaction is a total jerk, give them the benefit of the doubt. Sure, they almost went postal on you for rolling through a stop sign, but maybe they normally wouldn’t have. Maybe their child is fighting cancer or they are going through a painful divorce or their loved one is in deep depression or some other unknown state of suffering. I know next time I am tempted to label someone as a crazy *&$^@, I will think twice knowing that I do not know what they are going through in their lives. Of course, there are people out there who are legitimately crazy *&$^@’s, but you never know. And sometimes, you don’t need to know.