I am always fascinated by my triggers. Those places where I respond in the here and now only to discover I’m reacting at a level triggered by a distant past.
I hit one of those spots last night. It was fascinating.
I had stopped by the Sunterra Market near my office to pick up a few groceries. $121 worth or groceries including the beautiful bouquet of flowers I bought for myself.
At the checkout, realizing I didn’t have my shopping bag with me, I purchased one of Sunterra’s nice big bags, believing it would make it easier for the cashier to pack up my items and for me to carry them to my car a block away.
The cashier took the bag, lay it flat on the counter and then proceeded to scan each of my items and lay them on top of the bag.
I was confused.
Why wouldn’t she bag the items as she went along?
She finished scanning my order, I paid and then she proceeded to start scanning the next person’s order.
“Excuse me,” I asked. “Are you not going to bag my groceries?” I could feel the quiver in my voice as my umbrage rose. Sunterra is an upscale market. I like it because I don’t have to bag my own groceries. It always has great produce and it’s convenient. Was she expecting me to bag my groceries?
She looked at me as she bagged the groceries for the man who was behind me in line. “I will.”
By now, I recognize the vibration inside me. It is familiar. It is primordial. It is annoying.
It’s the one that makes me want to cry instead of speak up. That makes me want to stomp my feet in childish frustration and ask, ‘Do you see me?’
I tried to keep my voice calm. “Don’t you think you should bag my groceries before starting on the next person’s order?”
She looked at the two or three people standing in the checkout line behind me. They each had one, two, maximum four items in their hands.
“No. I want to clear the line-up first.”
By now I’m in full reactive mode.
“That’s fine. I’ll do it myself.” And I pull the bag out from under my groceries and start to pile my items into it.
She keeps checking out the people behind me. I keep putting the groceries into my bag.
When I’m finished, I grab my flowers, my bag of groceries and as I’m about to leave I turn to her and say, “I think this is really poor customer service.”
She looks at me surprised. Shrugs her shoulders and smiles at the person she’s helping.
Okay. I admit it. I do not do well when I feel dismissed and/or judged.
I huffed my way out of the store, and as I was leaving the man who appeared to be the Manager walked by me and smiled.
I did not smile back.
Now that’s a big thing for me. I think that’s rude.
I did it anyway.
As I reach the doors to the street, the argument inside my head was in full swing. “You should complain.” “Don’t be ridiculous.” “She’s just trying to do her job.” “Well she’s not that good at it.” “How will she learn?…”
Finally, I turn around, find the manager and tell him how unimpressed I was with her service. He looks surprised when I tell him she didn’t bag my groceries before starting on the next person’s and assures me he will speak with her.
I leave and as I drive home, I mull over my reactions to the situation.
What’s that all about? I ask myself. You sure have a lot of emotional energy around this. Care to dive in to find its source?
Now, along with the voice of wisdom that recognizes my response was not just to the situation but to the past, there is also the critter’s voice inside who wants to justify, rationalize and normalize my behaviour.
You had every right to be upset, the critter hisses. You are not being over-reactive. You deserve better treatment. It’s her problem. How dare she!…
From a customer service level, her actions could use some adjusting. That’s the manager’s job.
From my personal response level, my peace of mind, my equilibrium deserve my attention.
Later, as C.C. and I are enjoying dinner together, I tell him about my emotionally charged encounter. “I sure have some fascinating trigger points,” I tell him.
He laughs and agrees. “Yes you do.”
And I laugh with him.
“Yes I do,” I say. “Aren’t I fascinating!”
That encounter, whether she was giving me good customer service or not, shows me clearly some unhealed areas in my psyche. That wasn’t me, today, in the here and now, responding to her. In that moment, I was vibrating with the energy of a thousand tiny unhealed moments from long ago when as a child I felt unheard, unseen, undefended.
I breathe and remind myself what is real and true today. I am so loved and deserving of joy. I am safe now. I am safe.