I tried to manage my emotions, but ended up crying like an ugly baby. At work.
From this Instagram post.
Before we start, I would like to clarify something. I am not one to cry in public places. I am not saying this to sound tough and not #likeagirl, but I am truly incapable of crying in public because I associate crying with shame and people wanting to hug me, which they are definitely not my cup of tea.
So if I DO cry in public it’s because I have reached such a level of mental exhaustion, hormonal craze and inability to think clearly, that my brain just stuffs up like the Snapchat app when you have been playing with way too many filters – and I just explode into this ugly crying mess. Even Kim Kardashian’s ugly crying is cute in comparison.
Before the lady – let’s call her the Messiah because I know she is that egocentric that she would love that nickname – before Messiah came in, my mind was already sizzling, stirring negativity with a touch of self-loathing and never-ending winging.
I had spent the whole day at the beach; side-eying creepy tourists trying to take pictures of me, old surfers wanting to make eye contact, when I actually just needed a bit of peace and quiet to deal with the loud mess that my mind had turned into.
I walked into work with a heavy baggage of negativity and frustrations.
I am talking about a fashion blogger’s Samsonite luggage of negativity. I could have given the Dalai Lama centuries beyond his afterlife to answer my deep existential questions.
I wanted to call in sick because I know what happens when you drag your negativity bag to work. It just explodes right onto your face and of the people around you.
But we can’t just leave it there sitting at home, because we are told that we have to suck it up and just do it, so we end up squeezing that dirty laundry of emotions inside our luggage for the sake of seeming happy and motivated.
Bullshit, I know, right?
But seriously, if everyone called in sick every time they are having a shit day, nobody would be working, so I just dragged this big ass to work, with or without negativity.
Let me tell you, I should have stayed home for the sake of my own emotional state, but I am thankful that I didn’t because I learned a big lesson.
So Messiah Lady storms into the shop, eyes on the prize – some dish that she had requested a couple of hours ago before she went shopping – she is itching to tell me what to do, I can feel it because that’s how it feels when my mother can’t wait to tell me that she wants me to wash the windows.
I am nice. Okay, I pretend to be nice, and it works.
But Messiah doesn’t care about nice; her eyes and mind are set on these three sloppy cheese pastries that she has been waiting for before her shopping session, and I can’t really blame her, because I have waited three hours for a gelato once, so I do get it.
This is where it starts.
She asks me to put them in a plastic container while she waits for her other food to come out.
I don’t care because after working years in the customer service industry, I have stopped asking questions on people’s behavior and I just do what I am told.
I put the three pastries in the plastic container.
Then she asks me to actually, take them out and put them in paper bags so they don’t get sweaty.
I breathe in, look at an imaginary camera like The Office show and imagine that I turn into a robot that is not capable of showing emotions, nor gives a care in the world about people.
I don’t care. Just do the task. She likes them sweaty.
So I do it. I mentally swear in Italian, invoke Buddha to give me the strength not to pull any facial expressions, and I just do it. Are you happy, Nike?
But then shit hits the fan.
‘ACTUALLY, PUT THEM BACK INTO THE TRAY CAUSE I WANT TO HAVE THE OTHER FOOD HERE’
I want to be honest with you here. I have no idea what I said, or did, because all of a sudden I am taking these damn sweaty, greasy cheese pastries out of the paper bags and putting them back into the tray, while she is giving me a lecture on how I should be positive and stop giving her an attitude.
I look at her.
She looks at me.
She could have looked the other way like any other person and gone home, given me a bad review and complain with her family about her young waitress giving her an attitude after changing her order 20 times.
But she didn’t.
Messiah gasped and just searched for my hand, my touch, and said,
‘Oh my, I am so sorry’
I don’t know if it was the fact that it was a messed up day, or that her touching me had reconnected us as humans, not just as server and receiver; but suddenly, I started sobbing.
I didn’t even know I was capable of crying that ugly and messy like that.
The fact that she kept apologizing with this serious and deep voice and telling me ‘you matter’ didn’t help either.
It was a cathartic experience.
I ended up giving her a hug from which she wouldn’t leave and she kept telling me that I need to get some rest, accept the pain and that she could understand because she was Christian. (Okay, what?!)
The bottom lesson to this messy situation was that really I shouldn’t have exploded in her face, and she shouldn’t have on mine.
We should have left our weight of feelings home and recognized that really, anybody could have a shit day, whether they are serving you, or paying you.
But I also believe that it’s impossible to be that zen and robotic at all times. Sometimes your emotions win over your heart and there is only so much meditation and chill pills that you can take to rule them.
Sometimes that weight slows you down and pushes you to the ground, and it will explode on other people’s faces, because that’s inevitable for it to happen.
With our increasingly busy lives and the amount of information that our brains process every couple of seconds, it’s inevitable that something stuffs up.
The real lesson is in how we deal with these explosions.
The Messiah lady chose to recognize a pain that she had once experienced as a person.
She went beyond her pressing need for sweaty cheese pastries to be put on a tray;she went beyond the fact that she was paying for a service and that I was just another face of thousands she could have crossed,
and she decided to reach out and understand that really, there is no time wasted for apologizing and acknowledging another person’s pain.
We mutually apologized to each other, we thanked each other for this weird moment between strangers, and we carried on with our day, which by the way got a lot better because when you resolve whatever conflict you create by letting your emotions rule, your luggage gets checked into the further place on Earth.
Since then, every time I feel like my emotions are travelling with me, I mentally leave them at home and try to push them a bit aside when they can’t wait to explode on other people’s faces.
I try to recognize the same pain, the same anger, when other people’s emotions explode on mine; and you know how that feels?
Pretty damn good.