I woke up this morning at 7am, well-rested, happy to get in to work early. A snooze button free rousing is usually the sign of a great morning. It means I will be able to ease into daily preparations, leisurely bike to work, and be rewarded for my early bird behavior with an early bird departure from my job. The tone was set for an excellent day…until I stepped outside.
“My bike seat looks lower than… no, no… it’s just not there.”
Upon the realization that someone took advantage of my quick release seat, my expectations for a great day were immediately depleted. Then I remembered that I took cash out the night before (another rare preparedness). Relieved that I didn’t have to scavenge for the nearest ATM, I began to console myself on the speed walk to the subway station. “The seat is replaceable and at least I’m still sort of early for work.”
I fed my twenty dollar bill into the machine. No entry. I tried again. *Bzzzz* Frustration was building and the unmistakable noise of missed train faded out of my ears. “Why!?”
I flattening the bill on the groove of the machine, attempting to regain calamity. My bill ripped apart as if it was perforated. I flashed the two ripped pieces of paper to the Septa agent with a saddened look on my face. He simply shrugged his shoulders.
“We don’t have change”, he said.
“UGHHHH but you don’t GETTTTTTT IT, I’M LATE FOR WORK MY BIKE WAS STOLEN ANDITJUST RIPPEDDON’T YOU HAVE TAPE!? YOU DON’T HAVE TAPE JUST A PIECE OF TAPE??”
“Sorry Maa’mmm”, he shrugged again.
A tear rolled down my cheek and I panted in despair.
At that moment he waved me through. I felt like a gigantic baby, but suddenly everything felt okay again. I debated whether or not I should reiterate this frustrating morning as a ‘one-of-THOSE-days’ story to my boss. Partially as an excuse, but maybe partially as a conversation piece. Then, I realized how lame of a conversation that would be.
These narratives SUCK. Yet, they are pervasive. They are ever present in the peeved Facebook status, the angry yet humorous Yelp review, the water cooler talk, or the hour long therapy session. They are boring stories, but we tell them. Over and over and over again. Why? Because we are rewarded for it. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, as we need empathy (and in situations like this morning, a free Septa ride), but maybe we can consider how often we indulge in complaints. During the rest of my commute I realized I was actually grateful for some of what transpired. I didn’t have to bike in the freezing cold. I didn’t have to use all of my cash on tokens. It’s kind of amazing what a few moments of pause can do for your attitude.
Scholarly Stuff: A book I am reading now has really aided me in becoming aware of when I am about to complain and assessing the necessity of the complaint and my reaction. It’s called, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. It’s not brain science to know that complaining is harmful, but learning the science behind our positive and negative thoughts is motivating knowledge.