Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Workers in government offices are notoriously sour-pussed and plain old nasty. In other words, they can make easy scapegoats for our unwillingness to accept responsibility. At least, that was the case for me today.
I headed down to the Department of Motor Vehicles this morning knowing that I should probably bring my social security card. But, the truth was I was too lazy to turn back. When I was turned away for not carrying the proper documentation, I was annoyed with myself. I knew better. When I was turned away a second time for not having brought along my passport, I was indignant. I uselessly argued with the desk attendant about what should be considered proper documentation only to be given a "Those are the rules now get out of my face look." Angry and frustrated at the ineptitude of government employees to disseminate correct information, I, um, made a statement by throwing the clipboard on the table. I was pissed and I wanted the world to know it!
But as I walked home for the second time, I realized that I wasn't taking responsibility for what had just transpired. It was my responsibility to leave the house with all government-issued documents in my name, and it was my responsibility to properly inquire as to what I would need when I was turned away. Why oh why was I nasty to this woman who was just doing her job? Because, frankly, it was easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility for my own laziness.
Yup, I had behaved like a jackass and now I felt like one.
When I made my third and final trip to the DMV, I stood before the same employee and humbly said, "I'm sorry for giving you attitude before. It was my responsibility to have the required documents. It was hot, and I was tired, and I'm sorry." It was incredible to see her face soften and say, "It's okay. I have to deal with that all day long." At that moment, our defenses came down and we connected. I realized in that very moment how we often inflict suffering or just annoyances on other people because of our inability to own up to our issues. I just said, "Well, again, I'm sorry."
With a genuine smile she gave me a ticket number and regretfully told me that I needed to fill out the same form again in black (versus blue ink). I smiled, thanked her and walked to my seat.
I almost had a bad day and I almost blamed someone else for it, when really, I was the one who created the situation. The lesson for me was deep. "You create your own reality" so the saying goes. How true that is.
I invite you to reflect on how you may sometimes blame others for your bad days, for your failures, and even your successes. I hope you will discover that in almost all cases, you really are in the driver's seat.