Monday, February 17, 2014

Cut in Line? How About I Cut You?

Line Rage
Roid Rage, Road Rage, Line Rage
Rage… Rage… Rage…

In just moments, I went from this . . .

To this . . .

“Cut in line? Well, how about I cut you?”
Earlier in the day, my sister and I had discussed road rage in all its ugly manifestations. It’s a scary thing, especially in concealed-carry Florida when rap rage (anger from loud music) resulted in a young man’s death. Our society has several forms of misplaced rage. I could cite “He/she/they done me wrong examples all day long.” I could also cite “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” examples all day long. Citing them doesn’t do much. However, a bit of personal awareness and putting a check on my own behavior changed a little rage-full episode I felt coming on later that Saturday.
I had never experienced line rage—my own, that is. I noted a mild form of it a year ago when a man got angry when I let an elderly, motion-challenged couple in line in front of me. I defused that quickly when I took myself to the end of the line in their place.
This time, it was my turn to feel the rage. I’d shopped the “Everything 50 Percent Off” sale at a local thrift shop for an hour. I schlepped my treasures to the store’s checkout counter. I had a stash to the side of the counter that I kept bringing forward for payment. As I waited for the cashier, who was occupied, a woman stepped to the counter, and in the space between my things and the cash register, she put her items down. “Huh?” I said to myself, at first. I was too stunned to be angry, but that didn’t last long. I felt the bile rise and I started forming the words in my throat. “Who do you think you are? You cut in front of me! I’m first! Go to the end of the line!” I put the brakes on that and zipped my lips as I turned to get more of my items to pile on the counter. I was ready to blast the woman with a spew of self-righteous scorn and venom. I felt my anger bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble to the edge of my lips.
It was then that I remembered my road rage discussion earlier in the day. I checked in with myself and noticed that the rage I felt was so disproportionate to the situation. I stopped myself from speaking long enough to decide that “It just wasn’t worth it” to get into a confrontation with the woman. I was still angry, but decided to just let it go.
Not that it was easy. It wasn’t. I had some serious indignation to deal with. I still felt the “Who do you think you are?” thoughts, and the “Entitled just a bit, don’t you think?” judgment, but I kept tamping it down because in the big scheme of things, in the pattern and plan I have for my life, I never added “Scream at woman for cutting in line at thrift shop” to any of my life goals.
That pause, that observation of what was going on inside me, kept me from changing (in a most negative way) what was going on outside me. That’s the pause, the mindfulness that keeps me from being my worst self. I’m grateful for it when I'm aware of it.
I was surprised in the most pleasant sort of way when the cashier finally turned to us and said to the line-cutting person, “She was first” pointing at me. I had an opportunity to be magnanimous and I took it. “Go ahead,” I said. “You have only a few things.”

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