The other morning, when dropping Charlie off at Puppy Palace (yup! He’s spoiled and yes, they have a salt water pool for my ‘boujee’ pup), I led him into the main waiting room with no leash and collar on. This is usually fine but there was another dog in there I didn’t see. The Puppy Palace rules are, if there’s more than one dog in the waiting room, your dog should be leashed to avoid any unnecessary biting, fighting or other aggressive behaviors. If you’re not a dog owner, please know these types of behaviors are rare. Some dogs just aren’t fans of other dogs or people, especially if they’ve lived a hard life.
Charlie wandered over to the other dog and before I could grab a hold of him, the pups started sniffing each other. While neither dog showed hostility or bad juju toward the other, one of the workers had to separate them just in case.
Even though unintentional, I felt bad that I broke the rule. I sensed the worker was frazzled and perhaps a bit angry with me (I say ‘sensed’ because she had a mask on, so I couldn’t rely on regular facial clues). I wouldn’t blame her for being a bit miffed; after all, I should know the drill. Charlie has been going there for years.
“I’m so sorry about this,” I muttered with regret and sincerity in my voice. The worker didn’t reply, so I kept going, trying to make things right, “That dog is small and I didn’t see him as I came in. Again, I’m so sorry.” The worker walked away, never once acknowledging my apology.
How rude! I thought as I walked up to the front desk to sign Charlie in.
With my emotions high, experiencing a mix of Ugh Danielle. You’re so careless, and I can’t believe she just walked away from me, I unloaded on the young man at the desk.
“I’ve never had something so rude happen to me here. I gave an apology and that worker just walked away from me…”
The man replied with a warm smile on his face, “Oh goodness. Don’t be upset. She probably didn’t hear you. She’s hard of hearing.”
Whoa! I had never considered that.
I let out a sigh, “Wow. That must be it. Thanks for telling me.”
Just then, the worker came out and I couldn’t miss my chance to say sorry to her. This time she heard me. She was light and forgiving.
The second I got home from dropping Charlie off, I wrote a draft of this blog so that the encounter was fresh in my mind and I could perfectly capture the ‘don’t make assumptions’ moral. But while writing, I identified a greater depth to that moral: I’m human. I make mistakes. I feel things deeply. And I’ll never get every interaction right.
A few years ago, I would have thought about this situation for hours, beating myself up for not knowing the worker was partially deaf, for being too emotional or too quick to assume she was rude. But this time, as I sat down to write, I felt pride. My brain wasn’t tangled with questions, but instead I had clarity on why I made my assumption: I’m a loud person. I’d talked to this worker many times before and we’d never had troubles communicating. I was proud of myself for realizing there was no need to be mad with myself, it was an honest mistake – and as a human, I’m allowed to make many of those.
Instead of letting this uncomfortable encounter bubble inside of me for hours or days, I spoke my truth and within seconds I was rewarded with someone else’s truth. By expressing my emotions about the situation to the young man behind the desk, I found a truth that released me from purposeless emotion.
So my true moral of this story is: when we let ourselves be human, we can bring out the best in a situation.
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PS – Here’s an affirmation to use when you find yourself getting down on everything that makes you YOU, “I love myself as I am.”
PPS – Is there an awkward encounter you repeat in your head and you ask yourself: Why did I sound so lame? How did I make that blunder? If so, grab your pen and journal. Write the encounter down as a story. What did you do and say? What did the other person do and say? Once you’ve captured it, end the story with a lesson: What did you learn? Perhaps what did the other person learn? Read your now complete story and let all those negative vibes go, as this story is no longer negative: it has a lesson and that’s your positive spin.