The peaceful and relaxing Sunday I had planned for last weekend was shattered by an early-morning urgent knocking on my front door.
My wife and I live in a high-rise condo building and, as I serve on the condo board of directors, the banging on my door was to inform me that someone had driven into our garage door rendering it inoperable and thereby assuring that no vehicles were able to enter or exit the garage.
I called our management company and was assured that a technician had already been dispatched to assess the damage and dismantle the door and then went downstairs to check it out for myself.
I spent the next four hours of my planned relaxing Sunday explaining to various co–residents of my building, over and over again, why they could not drive their vehicles out of the building and directing them through the challenging process of turning their cars around and heading back to their parking stalls.
Needless to say, many folks were not pleased with the events of the morning. We have a large garage – approximately 400 cars – and it seems that many of those car owners had intentions of spending this Sunday away from their homes.
Some expressed their disappointment with mildly angry outbursts, some seemed resigned to their fate and silently turned their cars around and returned them to their stalls, most inquired how this happened and, I’m sure, each and every one asked how long will it be before they would be able to leave the building.
One well-dressed young man told me he was on his way to a wedding at which he was to be the Best Man and while the first words out of his mouth, upon learning that he would not be driving to the wedding, were not words fit to be printed, he patiently accepted his fate, parked his car and went upstairs to call a cab.
And so it was most of the people I spoke with that morning. There was the expected percentage of indignant anger, frustration and disappointment but everyone I spoke with that morning quickly reached the “it is what it is” conclusion, parked their cars and made alternate plans.
They all seemed to understand that accidents will happen and that life will go on.
And then she showed up.
As she approached me in her vehicle I waved my hand, gesturing for her to stop.
She completely ignored me and continued towards the door to the garage.
The technician had just arrived and was assessing the damage and even though it was apparent to everyone who had seen the door that it could not be opened, she ignored this obvious fact, rolled down her window and demanded that he open the “f*&^%@#$” door immediately.
And I mean right “f*&^%@#$” now.
The more he explained to her that this was not possible and that it would take him several hours to remove the pieces of the door the louder she yelled.
And the louder she yelled, the more profane her language became.
It was as if she believed that her display of out of control anger would somehow miraculously, speed up the opening of the door.
The moment I had become aware of her first outburst I started walking towards her car as I did not believe that it was in the technician’s job description to deal with a raging lunatic.
She saw me approaching the car and turned her attention to me.
She told me this was all my fault. Our Board of Directors is comprised of idiots and none of us know what we’re doing.
And she wasn’t going to take this “s#!+” anymore.
And we didn’t know who we were messing with.
And she was going to sue us.
And we were going to pay for this.
And we would be sorry.
And she would no longer be paying her condo fees.
At some point during her rant one of my fellow board members arrived and he too was immediately made aware of his own incompetence and uselessness as a human being.
She finally bid she us adieu – actually she charmingly told us to “go f*&^%” ourselves – and roared off at high speed not even attempting to slow down for the speed bumps that we had installed last summer in the hopes that drivers like her would remember that they were driving in a narrow underground garage and not on a freeway.
There is a point to this story that I don’t quite get.
I understand that everyone we spoke with, and who had to turn their cars around and re-park them had gotten into their cars with the expectation of driving out of the garage as they had done many times before.
I also understand that conflict is frequently triggered by expectations not being met.
And, as we have discussed so many times on these pages, the impact that events have on our lives is determined, not by the events themselves, but rather by the meaning that we place on those events.
Each of the other 60 or so people I spoke with that morning, all of whom experienced exactly the same event as our foulmouthed friend, was able to evaluate the severity of the event, reach the obvious conclusion that resolution was going to take quite some time, express their initial anger or disappointment with this event, reach the conclusion that “it is what it is,” return their vehicles to their stalls and make alternate plans.
Faced with exactly the same information as all of her neighbors, this woman lost her mind.
Clearly the meaning she placed on this event was radically different from that of her neighbors and consequently that meaning impacted her in a rather unpleasant way.
My initial thought had been to respond to her in kind but I quickly realized that she was presenting me with a wonderful, irrefutable, live demonstration that validated the point I was making above.
The broken door did not cause her hysterical, irrational outburst. That was caused solely by the meaning she chose to place on the broken door.
And as I watched her drama unfold I was reminded of another very useful fact: everyone brings great value to this earth, even if only to serve as a very good example of a very bad example.
And I am truly grateful to her for serving as such a good example.
Till we read again.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours is now available in print, and as an e-book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters and Indigo.