Have you ever called or texted a friend or family member multiple times over the course of a day or two and received total radio silence? And by the third or fourth unanswered call or text, did you toss your phone in anger and say something like, “WTF!?!?!? How rude can he/she be?!?!?”
I experienced this a few months ago when I tried to get in touch with my friend Nancy. I needed a small favor from her, and it was very time-sensitive. So, I called her on a Friday morning and asked her to call me back asap. When she didn’t respond after a few hours, I sent her a text message asking her to call me back asap. Another two hours went by and . . . no response. Not even a short text of acknowledgment! Seriously?!? I continued firing off text messages every two hours until I went to bed. Nothing. Nada. I was shocked at her rudeness. As I brushed my teeth that night, I told myself that Nancy was ungrateful and selfish, and I swore to never do another favor for her again. Ever. (Yes, I can be a drama queen. Yikes).
A few days later, Nancy called me. Her voice sounded very strange as she apologized for her silence. She told me that her boyfriend’s mother passed away early Friday morning (a few hours before I called her), and her boyfriend collapsed and was hospitalized shortly after he got the news. She called me as soon as her boyfriend’s condition stabilized.
Gulp. How could I be such a jerk? Who was the selfish one NOW?!?!?
Have you ever convinced yourself that you were a victim of someone’s rude/selfish/self-centered behavior, only to realize later that you were supremely misinformed? Before we get mad at someone who we believe has “wronged” us, could we stop and ask ourselves, “Maybe this isn’t about me at all?” Could we all be a little more mindful and less certain of others’ negative intentions towards us? Before we think we know it all and assume the worst, could we perhaps try this crazy method called “asking”?
This funny, short poem below might help you think about what could you be seeing differently in your life right now:
The Cookie Thief by Valerie Cox
A woman was waiting at an airport one night
With several long hours before her flight
She hunted for a book in the airport shop
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see
That the man beside her as bold as could be
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene
She munched cookies and watched the clock
As this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by
Thinking “If I wasn’t so nice I’d blacken his eye”
With each cookie she took he took one too
And when only one was left she wondered what he’d do
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh
He took the last cookie and broke it in half
He offered her half as he ate the other
She snatched it from him and thought “Oh brother
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude”
She had never known when she had been so galled
And sighed with relief when her flight was called
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat
Then sought her book which was almost complete
As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes
“If mine are here” she moaned with despair
“Then the others were his and he tried to share”
“Too late to apologize she realized with grief”
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.