Monday, February 2, 2015

Live and Let Live

Over the years I have learned some valuable interpersonal skills. One of those tools, and the one I use the most is, "Don't pick up the rope." Another favorite encourages, "Restraint of pen and tongue." The goal for me, as a recovering woman, is to maintain emotional balance. I can't do that if I show up for every fight I'm invited to. Truth be told, I rarely get invited into other people's drama these days, and I am grateful that I surround myself with people who'd rather do the right thing the first time, than have to go back and make an amend later for misbehavior.

This morning, however, I came face-to-face, literally, with a bully, a retired woman who lives, with her husband, in my apartment building in Rhode Island. I like this woman. We have broken bread together. We have shared intimate facts about each other's lives. I believe she is a good woman and strives to lead a peaceful life. But this morning, she came out shooting bullets because I chose to leave my car parked in our lot rather than move it to a municipal lot up off of the perilously steep Church Street. Normally, I would have been long gone by 6:30 am, and well on my way to my home group in Providence, but due to the parking ban in the city, the meeting was cancelled.

When the private plow driver arrived, I offered to move my car into the first available plowed section of the lot. No problem. Within minutes, the young driver made a few efficient passes, gave me the thumbs up to slide my car over so he could finish his task, and story over. Not. My neighbor stomped out, finger-pointing, shouting, and commanded me to move my car to the municipal lot. I managed, for the next several minutes, to stand my ground, continue cleaning off my car, and patiently wait for her to blow off her steam. The last thing she said to me, after conferring for several minutes with the plow driver was, "We will send YOU the bill for the extra time this is taking." I wanted to say, "It was YOU who just bent this guy's ear for five minutes. I'm part of the solution, not the problem." I didn't. I minded my own business, and she finally went back inside.

It's raining now. What little snow we got, the thing that precipitated the whole episode in the first place, is becoming slushy. Plows are the only vehicles attempting to navigate the treacherous Church Street. At some point, in the days ahead, I will formulate a clear, level-headed response to the parking and snow removal matter out back. For today, however, I am grateful that recovery has given me valuable tools for consensus-building rather than bullying and forced compliance.

No comments:

Post a Comment