Monday, December 13, 2010

"We Couldn't Possibly Do That For You."

I was a very angry and unhappy person when I came into Al-Anon, and when frustrated, I was not pleasant company. Yesterday, on the hunt for a replacement part, I had one of those encounters which used to set my teeth on edge, and cause my temper to rise; often, before program, I'd have been rude, and justified my rudeness by my level of frustration. Nowadays, these sorts of encounters are wonderfully funny.

I'd called a store here in town, to save myself a trip, and was assured that yes, they had that precise part for which I was looking. When I walked into the store, 4 employees, who had been leaning on the counters, fiddling with already perfect displays, etc, almost tackled each other to get to me first - I think they were bored senseless with nothing to do, and no customers to serve. The winner slid into place right in front of his co-worker, who turned away with a disgruntled look.

I presented my old broken part, and said my bit about how I'd phoned, and been told they had one in stock. He went into the stock room for a moment, then came out and announced that they didn't have one that size. Well, maybe they did have one, in the far back of the store where so-and-so works, but he didn't know.

I asked if perhaps he could go look, I'd be most grateful?

He stated firmly, "We couldn't possibly do that for you; we're  far too busy right now."

My eyebrows rose in surprise, and I couldn't help myself, I snuck a glance over to where the other 3 employees were once again lounging about, watching us with that same thousand-mile stare, of kids watching cartoons. I was still the only customer in the store.

He read the question in my raised eyebrows, and stated even more firmly, "This is just a temporary lull."

I had to bite down hard on my lower lip, in my efforts to contain the laughter trying to escape. I think he must have understood that neither statement had exactly resonated with the sound of truth, because he flushed slightly, and said again, "This is the Christmas season, and we're swamped with work, we can't go rummaging around in the back to find something we might not even have in stock!"

He turned to glare at his co-workers, who immediately leapt to attention and began rushing around, giving snappy little directives to each other, and looking extremely hardworking and busy - it was like a stage play come to life: "Small business with harried employees."

By this point, I was barely in control of myself, and think I must have looked a sight, as I fought with my facial muscles to regain control - you know the kind of wierd facial contortions we humans make when we are fighting a laughing fit - strange chewing motions, nostrils flaring, convulsive swallowing. I agreed that this was the busiest time of year for most merchants, thanked him nicely, and made it out of the store, and into my car, before the giggling fit got me.

I've been laughing about it ever since - once that poor guy had made his first silly statement, he felt he had to carry it through, no matter where that road led.

I'm grateful to Al-Anon, for having given me the ability to see these sorts of encounters with fellow human beings as Monty Python-ish, rather than annoying. If viewed as an excellent bit of silliness, they are an antidote to grey and rainy weather, stressful situations, all sorts of things. I'm delighted to have become a happy person, who can see the humour in almost everything. It's true what the Promises state; we will laugh more.


  1. I am smiling too! I had a similar moment when my son decided he couldn't stay with us any longer this week on his vacation as I had not lived up to his expectations. I really had a time trying to not burst out laughing at his perfect imitation of the World's Greatest Martyr. He left and then sent me a text that said if I wanted to hate him, he understood. I still am trying not to burst out laughing. Yes, we have changed.


  2. You have a much better reaction than I. I would like to think that I might laugh but most likely I would toss in sarcasm or worse speak my truth. I am too direct sometimes.

  3. Yeah, you really did a great job. I would have not been so nice. I would have pointed out that while it is their busiest time of is also mine and I don't have the time to come back etc. etc etc. He would have gone hunting around just to shut me up. lol

  4. Hope that you are okay. I miss your posts. Merry Christmas to you and yours.