Do you ever look back on past interactions and feel like garbage about how you acted? I do. This happens to me a fair bit, actually. There’ve been times I’ve gone so red with embarrassment and shame that I’ve started to sweat - over something I said or did 8.3 years ago. I find it crazy that conversations/interactions from so long ago can evoke such strong feelings in me now.
I like to think it’s because I’m a reflective person. I think a lot. I mull. I like noticing how I’ve changed as a human being – and how my loved ones have changed too. Sometimes my thoughts become obsessive and intrusive – I don’t let myself forget things that, for the sake of my mental heath, I really should. I sweat with embarrassment when I should just be sleeping. Or eating. Or watching a movie. In other words, I beat myself up. A lot.
A few weeks ago though, I deserved to beat myself up. Because you see, a few weeks ago I was a bit of an asshole.
As most of you know, I am a full time slay-at-home-mum who writes from home and runs a jewellery business (Artomic Art) on the side. A while back Artomic sponsored an awesome event called Pint of Science, so I went along on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights to showcase our products and award some prizes to trivia winners. It was A LOT of fun, but the whole thing was exhausting. Making a batch of new jewellery, running around for supplies, set-up, pack-up, friendly chats/banter with customers and organisers – and this was at the end of the day. So I’d been chasing a toddler the whole day before I even began the hour and a half trek into the city.
I sound like a massive sook don’t I? I mean most people don’t get to slay at home with their kids and follow their two passions while their partner brings home the bacon. BUT. I’m just setting the scene for my first ass act – so slay with me.
Because I was so busy, I plonked my daughter in front of cartoons for at least 2 hours per day every day. I left her in her cot after she woke from a nap for 45 minutes (!!) while I finished off some jewellery. I yelled at her on two separate occasions. Whenever she came to find me, I would pick her up and take her back to the TV so I could keep working.
I wasn’t a very good mother that week.
Then I placed an online order for some documents and business cards. I went in to pick them up and when I mentioned what I was there for, the staff stared at me blankly, trying to decipher what I was saying. For the record – this happens every time I go into this particular store. They can never figure out where my orders are. ANYWAY. It happened again – they couldn’t find my stuff and one of the girls actually said, ‘If they’re not in the drawer then I have no idea where they are, and that’s all we can do.’
That’s when I got angry.
Maybe it's not realistic to wish for every second of every day to be filled with smiles and laughter. After all, that would result in some very tired facial muscles. But what I do wish is that my daughter feels good about herself after interacting with her mama. I want to encourage her to fly - not clip her wings.
After lots of running around and umm-ing and ahh-ing and asking me to pull up my confirmation email, they found my orders. I walked away and mouthed, silently to myself, ‘Fuck!’ One of the ladies saw me and apologised profusely. I said ‘That’s OK,’ in a tone that clearly said, ‘That’s not OK,’ and stormed off like a grumpy cow.
Sure their system sucks, but I got all my stuff in the end didn’t I? I’d like to say that that’s where my asshole-ness ended. That I then became a saint and did nothing but spoon-feed sardine smoothies to orphaned Siamese kittens for the rest of my week. Alas. This is not true. I still acted like an ass.
A while ago, I ordered a pair of shoes for my sister’s birthday present. I received an email saying they had been shipped on the 20th of May. On the 27th of May, a Friday, I still didn’t have them. My sister’s birthday was on the 28th. I have no idea how I didn’t realise I hadn’t received my order until 4pm on a Friday. I’d like to say it’s because I was busy whipping up 17 sardine smoothies for those orphaned Siamese kittens. But I’d be lying. And I really don’t want to be a shit person AND a liar.
So anyway, I checked my tracking number and the courier system told me that I had provided an insufficient postage address (I hadn’t) and that the shoes had been sent back to the shoe store the day before the shoe store sent me an email saying my shoes had been shipped. Clear as mud.
Over the phone, I explained my issue and the girl told me that she’d contacted the couriers but hadn’t heard back from them and didn’t think she’d hear back from them before she had to leave for the day. I asked if I could go to an actual physical store and pick up a pair – I asked if there was ANYTHING they could do to help – after all – through no fault of my own, I was left with nothing to give my sister for her birthday. Actually it was a family gift. So she would’ve received no presents at all. The girl pretty much responded with, ‘It’s hard when the order is in limbo…’ trailed off and left it there.
That’s when I got angry.
I asked her, in not a very nice way, if she could do everything in her power before she left for the day, to see to it that I had a pair of shoes to give my sister on her birthday, and to call me back before 5pm. Then I hung up the phone.
I wasn’t a very good human that week.
The shoe saga goes on – I got my hubby involved who knows someone who works for the courier – but by the time they got their hands on my order, the customer service rep had organised a new pair for me to pick up in store – it was such a mess. I ended up yelling at my husband and accusing him of ignoring my texts and calls – because if he checked his texts and answered his calls, he would have known to abort mission. He explained that he wasn’t ignoring me – he was on the phone the whole time trying to sort everything out with the couriers. Then he hung up on me.
I called him back to argue. Yep. Just to argue and tell him how wrong he was. But instead I started crying.
Because you see, I was a rubbish human being that week.
No-one will remember the shoes you leave behind. Unless of course you are talking about this particular pair...
I spoke to people rudely over issues that were not very important, and issues that weren’t really their faults. So what if I didn't get my documents and business cards? So what if my sister’s birthday present ended up being a little late? And big deal if I didn’t have exactly 27 products to display at Pint of Science.
When my daughter wraps her little arms around my legs for a cuddle – isn’t it more important that I hold her for a few minutes instead of putting her back in front of Peppa Pig?
Is there anything more important than being decent to one another? Treating people with kindness and respect? Showing compassion and empathy? Personally, despite the way I acted all those weeks ago, I truly believe there is nothing, nothing more important. Because no-one is going to care about the shoes and stationary you leave behind – but – to quote a true legend - people will always remember how you made them feel. That will be your lasting legacy, whether you like to believe it or not.
And I really just want people to not feel like shit after interacting with me. So I’m going to reflect a little more on those scenarios, sweat with shame, and then stop being such an ass.