To Whom It May Concern;
I’m guessing the details of our brief encounter are insignificant to someone like you, so allow me to refresh your memory.
Sunday morning around 9:30. I was sitting in the corner of the neighborhood Starbucks, chatting with a dear friend, Becca. The coffee shop was moderately full.
I happened to be sitting next to an electrical outlet, a surprisingly rare commodity for a Starbucks that’s only a couple years old.
Becca and I were talking. You approached me and said, “Excuse me, would you mind moving to another seat so my wife can use the outlet?”
Now do you remember?
A thousand thoughts flew through my mind. The one that particularly stood out was “How Dare You?”
Remarkably, I didn’t react. I responded.
With no snark in my voice, I said, “I’m planning on departing in ten minutes or so. You’re welcome to my seat when I leave.”
You may have responded with “OK” or something like that and then moved on.
I watched you seat your wife catty-corner across from me, one seat away from the wall and another outlet. The young woman sitting next to the wall graciously helped your wife run her power cord from the outlet to her seat.
I’ve been thinking about our encounter. For better or worse. Allow me to share some of the conclusions I’ve drawn.
Though dressed casually, your perfectly ironed clothes, your close-cropped hair tells me your appearance is important to you even on a lazy Sunday morning at Starbucks.
Accustomed to getting your way, you interrupted my conversation, unapologetically requesting I change seats, as if you deserve special treatment
As a side note, when discussing the traffic, I attribute the aggressiveness and rudeness to the fact that Washington, DC drivers are the most important people in the world so their time is more valuable than everyone else’s.
Does that sound familiar? I’m betting it does.
As a result of our encounter, I stayed in my seat for a additional hour. I noticed your wife diligently working on her laptop, while you sat elsewhere, reading the Sunday Times. I didn’t notice a single glance my way.
Is that how it works?
You look at moments like this as victories? You savor wins, accept losses and move on? I could work on that. Obviously.
Finally, and feel free to skip this since it doesn’t concern you, what does all this say about me?
Why couldn’t I let it go? Why did it our encounter leave such a sour taste in my mouth for the next couple hours?
Why did it make me feel unimportant?
One of the Tara Brach’s Buddhist teachings in Radical Acceptance, is acknowledging that when you have an adverse reaction to someone, what is upsetting you is not the person, but your reaction to the person.
Accordingly, you can’t change the person, but you can better understand your reaction and choose a different path.
Thanks for listening.
Stay in touch. Connect. Comment.
PS: A little narcissism for your viewing pleasure