I was at a local grocery store buying things. In a queue of two people ahead of me,I was standing quietly. There were boxes lying around me- fresh merchandise, I guess. As the evening hours were approaching, the employees were removing the boxes and placing its stuff hurriedly.
I hear a voice behind me, “excuse me,” and an employee in front of me makes an eye contact with the voice. I ignored as I thought the voice wanted employee’s help with something. I heard “EXCUSE me” for a second time and after some time I realized that it was for me. It was hard to ignore because of the harshness in tone. To me – “excuse me” sounded more like, “you fool, I’m talking to you.”
Normally a person would not get irritated on requesting you after two or three times but this one got angry the second time itself. Normally people would ask in a requesting tone rather than a commanding tone. I thought that she would have had her reasons to be so rude…she could have had a bad day or had too many things to carry or getting late as I was blocking her path or she was just the way she was.
Anyways, on turning my head I saw a girl in her twenties wearing black rimmed thick glasses and a pony tail tightly tied backwards. The face mattered more to me than her body or her clothes. I could have responded by repeating the anger or moving silently from her path. Normally, I would have chosen silence and then been angry for the rest of the day cursing, fretting and frowning at others or self. But that day I decided to respond differently. I decided to smile. With a big smile stuck on my face I said, “Sure, why not? Please, go ahead.” Even with a pretentious smile you can’t pull anger (at least on your face and even if angry you don’t sound so).
Although I must say it was a difficult smile but then I was happy or should I say satisfied with my reaction. That smile made her slightly embarrassed.
When I smiled at her I didn’t think of embarrassing her or saving myself from being embarrassed in front of the employees…I just smiled because I wanted to. I chose my response.
So why did I decide to smile inspite of being inflicted with that bitter tone. I have read so much about – taking control of your life and actions…not to give the control to others…chose your response…. In that moment I felt that whatever I’ve read and if that’s true I should do what they always ask to do…smile. And it turned out to be true – you can’t hold on to anger with a smile stuck on your face.
I was so happy with myself that day – for smiling, for taking control of the situation, for choosing my response rather than reacting, for not behaving like the other person and most of all for following and not failing. With a smile I put an end to the event then and there rather than letting it simmer in my head.