I am a passive-aggressive human. Probably anybody who knows me would be able to tell you this about me, as I tend to deal with situations I don't like with sighs and eye rolls and the ever-effective silent treatment. I don't very often get in somebody's face, it's just not my style. And I know that being simple and straightforward is a much more effective way of handling things, not to mention healthier. But for some unknown reason, my default is passive-aggressive behavior.
I'm reading a book on how to improve my habits and attitudes. Some things are easier than others.
A couple of weeks ago, only a day or so before my birthday, I went to the grocery to buy some wine for a neighborhood Bunco night that was coming up. As Penny scanned my items, she looked up at me and sighed. "Honey, I'm gonna need to see your ID for this wine."
Now any other time, I would have been pleased. Flattered, even. But there are a few things you need to know about my relationship with Peggy. 1) She is anal about coupons. 2) She is anal about following the rules. 3) I don't like going through her line because of this.
When I am in a hurry or have left my drivers license in the car, as was the case a few weeks ago, I get easily irritated over anal people who follow the rules. (Note: those people are not so unlike myself, but sometimes I am just arrogant enough to think that I am allowed to pick and choose the rules I want to follow and the ones I do not.)
I do think grocery stores should check the ID's of people who are buying alcohol. But I am 38. I know I am 38. If you'd like to say I don't look 38, I'm happy to hear it. In fact, I'd love to hear that I look younger than 38. But I know that you know that I know I do not look 21. I don't think I should, either. It would be weird.
Anyways, I told Peggy that I had left my wallet in the car, hoping she would agree to give me a pass on the whole ID check thing. Most of the checkers do. She's the only one in the past eight years who has asked to see my ID when I'm buying wine. "Sorry," she said. "It's just that I'm not familiar with you and we are required to check ID."
Peggy, I wanted to say. I know your name. I know your checkout habits. I know you smoke. I know you used to work at a department store in the same town. How do I know all this? I'm not a stalker. I'VE BEEN COMING TO THIS GROCERY STORE FOR LIKE MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE. How are you 'not familiar with me'??? Is this even possible?
Apparently so, and Peggy wasn't having it.
It is slightly unreasonable to think that anyone could be upset or anything other than flattered over a grocery store checker asking to see one's ID, but I was irritated because she asked me to run to the car and grab my ID. The end. Because A) this is a really ludicrous thing to get annoyed over and B) it was not a situation to say, as I am learning, "you have made me upset and here is why" with smiles and pleasant tones, I reverted back to my comfort zone of passive-aggressive sighs, clipped tones, and irritated facial expressions.
I went out to my car to get my license, but not because my perspective had suddenly changed or I decided to be cooperative. I needed to buy wine. I did not want to come back to the store to buy wine. So I got my wine and my groceries and went home irritated.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and looking back, my whole passive-aggressive habit is one that doesn't gain me any favor. And it leaves me feeling frustrated in the end, knowing that I could have handled myself better and chose not to. As Lysa TerKuerst says, if this is the worst thing that happens to you today, then it's still a pretty good day.
If someone checking my ID is the worst thing that happens today, then it's still a pretty good day.
If an attitude from my child is the worst thing that happens today, then it's still a pretty good day.
If I am running late and am having a bad hair day and I forgot my earrings and bombed my diet and have dark circles under my eyes and dishes in the sink and laundry in the machine and the house is a wreck and I didn't get all my stuff done--if these are the worst things that have happened to me today, then it's still a pretty good day.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our little bubbles of life that our perspective shrinks, and small things become big deals. Listen. Small things should not become big deals. If we let everything become drama in our lives, we will never find rest. Or peace. And I desperately want rest, peace, and joy to become permanent residents in my life.
As with most things in life, change does not come easily, but at this point, unlike so many others, I'm willing to learn. I want to change, because I see how my behavior does not benefit me but causes me further duress. And further duress is no longer welcome in my life.
I am 38. I know I am 38. Next time you see me and you'd like to mention that I look younger than 38, I promise I will smile.