Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pleased To Make Your Connection!

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, if you've read my last entry you know that we had a new stove delivered. This writing however, is not about appliances, but about people.

My phone rang early last Friday afternoon. It was the delivery man calling to tell me that he would be arriving sooner rather than later with my delivery. He had a fairly heavy accent which I found difficult to interpret over the phone. About 10 minutes later, I saw the delivery truck pull up and I opened the door to a very pleasant gentleman in his mid 40's, who had a lovely Russian accent.

It wasn't his accent however, but his first words that struck me. "I'm not a bad guy, am I?". This rather odd introduction took me by surprise and I wasn't sure how to respond. He then asked if I'd mind locking up my dogs. Despite my reassurance that they were friendly, he politely insisted. Then he showed me the scar on his forearm that he received from another customer's "friendly" dog. I agreed, albeit reluctantly.

You see, whenever I receive a delivery, have our gas meter read, or otherwise open the door to a stranger when I'm home alone, I find comfort in the fact that there's usually a large dog or two in close proximity. This gentleman's initial question, "I'm not a bad guy?", did very little to put my mind at ease.

As we chatted and I expressed my concerns about how we might get the new stove through the narrow doorway, he stopped and said, "You know, you're a very nice lady'. Again, I felt uneasy. Not threatened..just uncomfortable. I glanced at the clock to see how soon it would be before my husband would be home. A little later he went on to say, "You know, the last customer made me feel as if he were buying ME instead of the merchandise!" I understood! The comments that I found so strange, were actually his way of expressing his feelings of being treated disrespectfully by another customer. It wasn't anger I heard in his voice, but something else. It was sadness. I felt horrible! Horrible that he had been treated badly and horrible for my own reaction to his words, that were obviously spoken in kindness, rather than with any sinister intent. I did understand. A few weeks earlier, I experienced something quite similar and no less unpleasant.

We had a few projects that needed to be done at home and I called on a local "Handy Man" service to give us an estimate for the work to be done. My intention was to give the job to someone here in the Village, rather than an out-of-town service. Well, when the idiot...(oooops, outside voice), man came by to give me the estimate, he was rude, dismissive and behaved as if he were doing me a favor by hiring him. He chatted on his cell phone, ignored me as I pointed out the various projects, and finally interrupted me while I was speaking to ask, with smug arrogance, "Where did you get our name from again?". Needless to say, the work went elsewhere. Thanks, but I don't really need another, "Man Around The House".

Both these experiences however, were not without merit. They helped me better understand an incident that occurred some 15 years before, but that has bothered me ever since.

We had hired a moving company to move us into our current home. We had used them in the past because they had always been professional and reliable. However, on this particular day, they sent over a man who presumably had been treated badly by previous customers. Either that or he was a few moving trucks short of at fleet. In any case, he decided that this day would be the day that he would vent his frustrations...on me!

As he oversaw the men that were bringing in our belongings, I couldn't help but overhear his conversation. "I know these people", he said. "They're rich and nasty. They don't know what it's like to really work". He purposely spoke loud enough for me to hear his comments. "And her? She's a nothing but a rich bitch!" Oh no he didn't!! Surely, he wasn't referring to me??? His co-workers appeared visibly embarrassed by his behavior.

"Who is this guy?", I wondered. I was certain I had never laid eyes on him before today! His commentary went on for the remainder of the afternoon. He had a multitude of complaints and made rude comments whenever I was in earshot. My husband was at work during the move, so I was at home alone. Despite fact that he had other men working along side him, I felt vulnerable. He was bitter. His anger..palpable.

Rich? He would have probably been shocked to learn how wrong he actually was. We'd spent most of our savings buying our home and when all was said and done, we had just about enough money to pay the movers! As far as my being a "bitch" well, in this case, he was close. After he'd left, I locked the door and called his supervisor to ask how well they screened their employees for mental disorders. Then I wrote a letter to the owner of the company detailing what took place and why we wouldn't be using them again in the future.

Yesterday, I judged a man who was merely complimenting me for treating him well and I did so, as a result of fear. The handy man and the mover? Well, perhaps the handy man had heard my name around town or read something that had been written about me. Trust me. You can't be a Witch in this town without someone having an opinion and it's not always good. Still, I was a potential client and a future referral source. Yet, his ill-mannered disposition lost my business. The mover? Well, perhaps he did have some psychiatric issues or perhaps he was just tired of people treating him as if he was a piece of furniture.

Think about how long it takes to get to know, I mean really know someone. Yet we judge and are judged by others all the time. Often at first glance. Is it an inherent flaw of humankind? We judge based on social class, religion, weight, race, and at times, solely on the opinions of others.

What we are missing? What is it that we fail to see when we are looking at the shortcomings in others. Are we afraid that we see too much of ourselves in some or perhaps not enough of ourselves in others? What I believe we are really missing is the "interconnectedness" that exists between us all. When our lives cross paths, the judgements made in those initial moments can can impact us in greater ways than we can ever imagine.

The Witch, the Delivery man, the Mover and the Handy Man. Before those fateful days, none of us had ever met, nor may we ever meet again. And yet, how we reacted during those brief, chance encounters may have altered the course of our lives forever. Did the Delivery man learn to feel appreciated for his work? Did the Mover lose his job? The Handy Man, most definitely lost a client.

Fear may lead us to misjudge, but there is no excuse for ignorance.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged".

In Darkness, light!