Monday, June 06, 2005

Narrow Is The Way On The Streets of New Orleans

or

Obviously, Sometimes I Think Too Much


When Dr. Psycho Therapist and I were crossing the street to get to my car after having lunch, there was a man in a large white SUV type vehicle driving out of the parking lot we were walking into. Actually, he was not driving. He was sitting partially in the parking lot and partially in the street, waiting, and he was staring at Dr. Psycho and I like a calf looking over a new gate. As we walked toward the back end of his vehicle, the man yelled out to us “Don’t bother saying thanks.”

I yelled back a quick and cheery “thank you” to the man. Since Dr. Psycho and I had just spent a fair portion of our visiting time celebrating my amazing progress in certain areas of my life, I was mortified at being so easily manipulated into meeting the loony expectations of a total stranger. Partially to take the attention off my compliant people-pleasing groveling, and partly to test my blossoming diagnostic skills, I asked Dr. Pyscho why we had to thank the guy. (I know I didn’t spend all that time in therapy solely for my good. Now I must work on learning to share my great pyscho therapeutical wisdom and insight with the world!)

My diagnosis:

Every decent psycho therapist knows that unmet expectations breed resentment, and resentment sometimes manifests itself in sarcastic remarks such as, "don't bother saying thanks." In this man's mind, he had made the ultimate sacrifice of forty-seven seconds of his valuable time waiting for us to cross the street, and he had unmet expectations of receiving our undying gratitude for his gracious gift.

I think that where I failed the man was in not waiting for him communicate his need to me in an emotionally healthy way, perhaps using this model:

When you…”,
I feel…”,
What I would like is…”

Had he done that, here is how it might have sounded:

When you walk in the street and I think I don’t have enough room to drive my large white SUV out of the parking lot, and I have to wait forty-seven seconds for you to get out of the way and you do not even say thank you

I feel angry and resentful.

What I would like is for you to express gratitude in a gracious manner.”

Obviously, the man had a problem with anger and resentment, as well as an appalling lack of decent communication skills. At least, that is how I assessed the situation. But apparently, I am not as brilliant as I thought. My diagnosis did not line up at all with Dr. Pyscho's.

Dr. Psycho’s diagnosis?

He can’t handle his vehicle. He had plenty of room to drive.

8 comments:

  1. great post.....I probably would have reacted with my usual "bite me".......

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  2. bout as deep as you are there....I live just south of the Georgia border in north central(?) Florida, 2 hours in any direction from any sort of civilization.
    The link for the art work is on my page. It's called Story People. His stuff is great and he also has little stories as well....his web site is always a source of amusement for me!

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  3. Good diagnosis, Dr. Annie.
    I have used the when you do thus and so, I feel thus and so... as a tool I learned in a conflict management class I took for work a while back. It really helps narrow down my thoughts and stick to the point. Cause I really want to be sarcastic like that guy sometimes. or just rant on and on about nothing in particular - sometimes never getting to the point, only knowing that I'm angry. (or maybe not even knowing that)

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  4. Good post - I had to chuckle at the end. I am so lousy at seeing the obvious sometimes.

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  5. People are strange. It was a darn good diagnosis!

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  6. Annie, this was great! You had me chuckling there at the end. Glad to see you're out having a good time these days!

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  7. very good, but close to home... not the driving part, the communication bit.

    anon.

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  8. There is laughter, love, and learning dancing joyfully in this post. Go Annie!!!

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