Today’s long day at the distillery gave me a lesson.
Yes, I still love and adore my job. Nearly every person who comes in is in a good mood and ready to be in an even better one. And nearly everyone is happy with the person giving the tour because, well, I give them whiskey not once, but twice.
Nearly everyone. Nearly.
It’s still a customer service position, and as such, there will always be someone not happy. Or someone who is happy, but high maintenance. Or someone who will never, ever be happy, and that level of unhappiness has nothing to do with their surroundings and activities. This is the person who will actively seek a reason for their unhappiness, right down to whether they have to take twenty-seven steps to reach a destination when everyone else seems to take a mere twenty-six and three-quarters.
(Certainly there are those for whom the quarter-step is an actual imposition, a painful addition, or an unreasonable expectation. Those aren’t the folks I’m speaking of.)
And those folks often trick us into believing that last quarter-step is important. Or their misery over that quarter-step is important. Or the threat of their overblown dissatisfaction with that quarter-step is important. And once that trick is played, the obligation for solving it is transferred to us as well.
And most times, we know both the trick and the obligation are bullshit, but we fall for the trick anyway, and then are angry we were made to feel an obligation. And we try to find a way to either duck the obligation, or meet the obligation in a way that doesn’t actually make the person happy because that feels like a “win.”
This is the root of pettiness. On both sides.
I fell into the trap today, took a quick walk, and decided I didn’t want to be petty any longer.
Look: No matter our social and political leanings, there are great and wonderful and terrifying and inspiring things happening in our world today. Those things deserve my energy. Matching petty-for-petty does not. Answering someone’s act of petty nastiness with equally petty nastiness accomplishes nothing. Answering petty nastiness with civility often accomplishes nothing for the other person as well… But it accomplishes a great deal for me.
I don’t waste my energy. I don’t waste me time. I don’t waste my emotional reserves.
I solve the problem, or I don’t because I can’t, and that’s the end of it.
So today my goal became to leave as much pettiness behind as I can. To leave behind the deep-rooted need to respond in kind over little and meaningless nastiness. To let go of the false notion of “winning” in the game of pettiness, and strive instead to understand in the moment how little pettiness matters.
Pettiness is exhausting. I have more important things to do.
Now we’ll see how long I can hold on to this decision…