The other day I had a conversation with a woman who was upset about an experience she’d had with a cashier in a store. After receiving good assistance in another area, she went up to a register and was told to go to the end of a long line. Since I wasn’t there I don’t know what truly happened, but it ended with this customer stalking out, furious, without what she’d come to purchase. Hey, we’ve all been there, right?
But beyond her upset of the moment, she went on days later to fume about how she and her family would never shop at that store again, and she was telling all her friends not to go there either. What a shame, I thought, that the interaction at the cash register more than canceled out the good service she got elsewhere in the store.
The details about who was out of line, metaphorically and literally in this case, aren’t really important. Any of the people involved might have misunderstood, could have been under stress in other areas of their lives, might not have slept well, or may be coming down with a virus. We’ve all been there too.
What struck me was that she was so determined to cling to her upset and to pass it on to others. “I’m telling all my friends…”
This story ran through my mind today as I was weeding in my perennial bed. A beautiful perennial garden depends on the gardener’s willingness to pull out weeds and edit down perennials that are too enthusiastic or seed in the wrong spot. And one of the keys to success is not to get annoyed about this, but to do the job and move on.
On a beautiful day it’s a pleasure to weed and edit, but some days the work isn’t as enjoyable. Yesterday morning as I weeded and deadheaded the sweat ran down my skin, the dirt flew up and stuck to every part of my body, and occasional mosquitos landed, trying to bite me.
What if I approached the garden in the same way that the woman I spoke to handled her disappointing retail experience? The weeds would make me furious and when my first plant died or an insect attacked I would be telling everyone how horrible it is to be in the garden.
Gardens, cashiers, and customers are all flawed; it’s an imperfect world. Nevertheless, we choose what we focus on, and spread to others. So what will it be, the weeds or the flowers?