Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Not All About Me

During college, I had a summer job one year in food service at Mount Rainier. I had a great boss, good coworkers, fascinating people from all over the world and, of course, the incredible surroundings. I loved working there.

Of course, not all days are equally joyful, and not all people are equally reasonable. There was one time when the electricity went out because a big truck had run off the road and hit a power pole. It took a couple of hours to get it fixed, being on a mountain and all, so our cooking options were limited that afternoon. One guy came in with his family and ordered burgers. I helpfully explained that we couldn't cook burgers because we didn't have power due to an auto accident, but I'd be happy to make some fresh deli-type sandwiches. This was clearly not acceptable to him. "If we wanted sandwiches, we would have ordered sandwiches. We want burgers!"

He seemed to think that I would fix the problem if he just kept talking, loudly and insistently. He did pause expectantly a few times, as if to see if I'd started cooking yet. I listened respectfully, acknowledged his frustration, and offered other options for feeding his family. When it was clear that I wasn't going to provide burgers, he started yelling, escalating toward a full-blown temper tantrum. I thought he might throw himself on the floor, kicking and pounding. He seemed to genuinely believe the world revolves around him and his family, and anything that does not go his way is a personal offense.

This fellow didn't get the burgers he ordered, and it ruined his day. I don't want to live that way.

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