Saturday, June 29, 2013

Boringly Normal Gets A Surprise

Yep.  That's me.  If anyone asked me to sum up myself in two words, I'd pick, "Boringly Normal".   Which is not a bad thing.  It's more like shorthand for the fact I'm dependable, considerate and polite.  The "Golden Rule" is in my DNA.  True, my co-workers see that as "Sucker!", but living with my actions is better than stooping to their level.  In fact, I told Hubby the other night that the reason I was so incensed at the action, more like inaction, of someone was that I was tired of dealing with people who thought mediocre was good enough.  For a kid who was raised by parents who instilled "you can be anything you want if you put in the effort",  good enough just isn't me.

Rather ironic for someone who works in local government and often hears the phrase, "Good enough for government".

This week, it was as if Life was testing to see the limits of my patience.   At work I got more wrong numbers in one day than I've gotten since we moved back to our Center 4 months ago.  And yet rather than bark, "Wrong number!" and slam down the phone, I just can't do it.  No, normal for me is to ask who they're trying to reach.  Why?  Am I that curious?  No, it's because 9 times out of 10 they've dialed the wrong government extension.  Sometimes even the wrong part of government.  But I look at it this way.  If I'm the only "government person" they ever deal with, I hope the conversation ends with them believing I'm doing my job and serving the public.  Maybe they'll tell their neighbor I am worth that 2% cost of living raise being debated. 

Even though the man who cut me off in the parking lot AND let the store door slam in my face didn't give me any warm fuzzy feelings, it didn't stop me from holding the door for the lady behind me.  Why?  I just can't help it.  I'm ingrained with a deep sense of right and wrong...even though I am capable of seeing shades of gray.

Hubby asked me to pick up a bottle for him at the liquor store.  It's the family joke:as the only one who doesn't drink, I'm the one always sent to the store. I suspect it's because they know the bottle will come back full.  As I walked up to make my purchase, the young woman talking on her cell phone never broke stride.  She never acknowledged the older gentleman who rang up her purchase and I was an obstacle between her and the front door.  I kinda feared for the person on the other end of the phone if she was headed his/her way.  The man seemed surprised that I spoke to him at all and grinned when I was polite.  As I went to leave, I saw a shiny quarter on the floor.  Yep, before I could stop myself I bent to pick it up and hand it back, thinking he'd dropped it earlier.  

Imagine my surprise to find it was glued to the floor. I laughed, muttering, "Cute" under my breath. I guess cheap entertainment is better than none. 

I sometimes wonder if the world is so self absorbed that they don't recognize boringly normal or they simply expect the world to wait on them.  I do the things I do because I want to.  Sometimes  it's out of sympathy; as the Director of my Center, I'm also the entire staff.  That puts me in charge of ordering myself once a week to take out the trash and clean the restrooms.  So I tend to put things back where they belong.  I can't help it.  I don't have OCD, I just had a Mom who told us to put things back where we found it.  Simple system that works.

Which is how I received my surprise.  In the parking lot of a store, I watched several people simply abandon their carts by inching them away from their vehicle toward another car.  You know, as if THAT guy had abandoned the cart, not them.  As I pushed my cart toward the outdoor cart corral, I was thinking how much easier life would be if people just thought about someone other than themselves.  Yes, I will be an optimist until I die.  I was walking away from the cart when I heard an odd, rhythmic sound.  I took a couple of steps forward before curiosity got the best of me and I looked over my shoulder.

There, about 10 feet on the opposite side of the carts was a young man.  Applauding.

We locked eyes, he nodded and kept on clapping until I got to my car.  I had to drive past him to exit the parking lot.  He smiled and gave me a salute. I smiled back, noticing he was wearing a name tag from the store.

I guess sometimes, boringly normal is neither boring or normal.  It's just nice.


Kim Ayres said...

But you're neither boring nor normal.

Boringly normal is blundering your way through life with little thought for others.

Being aware of others and adjusting your behaviour to make them feel better about themselves - being high in empathy - is something really quite special.

It may be normal for you, but that doesn't make it normal...

hope said...

Thanks Kim...never thought of it that way.

I grew up in a world of adults who did the right thing for the right reason and sometimes I find it depressing that today's society is so "ME!" centered.

Thanks for seeing that as something worthy rather than just terribly old fashion or out of date. :)

mapstew said...

I don't have boringly normal friends, only good friends, my friend.

(What was in Hubby's bottle? Is there any left for visiting little singing fellas?)



hope said...

Thanks Map!

As if it's not bad enough I have to write checks to a vendor called "Grim Reaper", the Hubby is drinking a concoction made by Jim Beam called "The Devil's Cut".