Sunday, July 15, 2012

French Fries and Frustration

Let me set the scene for you:
It was Friday night after a long week of work and a surprise trip to the neurlogist and, and, and... I was tired, I hadn't eaten since lunch - it was 9pm and I had been driving for 40 minutes listening to kids music.  We don't have air in the van, so I drove with the windows down, my hair, in a pony tail, was wind-blown and the smaller sections crazy all over the place.  My children, having been swiftly thrown into the van upon the completion of camp, were dirty - really dirty.  Oh, and my 2 year old?  He's pooped through 2 pair of shorts today, the last shortly before we left the grounds - he was clad in a tshirt and diaper only.

I promised the boys that we would stop and get a "snack" on the way home, they had only had snacks at dinner time because I thought we would leave sooner.  I pulled in to the first fast food joint on the road after leaving camp (yes, the nearest fast food joint between our house and the camp is a 40 minute drive).  I ordered our food and pulled off to the side to hand out treats.  I opened my bag and discovered that I had only been given about half of a box of fries.
Okay, so not a big deal, I figured I'd just go through the drive through, explain the situation, and have them correct it - but... the line was getting really long and I just wanted to get home as soon as I could.. so.. the crazy french fry lady (I'm sure that's what they're calling me now) parks the van in an actual spot, pulls 3 kids out of it (only 1 had pants on), my hair was all crazy... we were a sight.  I marched my 3 boys inside, 1 crying because his brother refused to hold his hand and keep him safe in the parking lot.  I put my bag on the counter.

The poor teenage boy behind the counter looked up and asked how he could help me.  I pulled the half box of fries out of my bag and told him what had happened.  He was quick to apologize for the inconvenience, he used his training well and made sure to add, "I know this can be frustrating"... he apologized again after they corrected it.  I wasn't ANGRY, but I probably looked like it, dragging my children inside to accuse them of giving me a less than adequate amount of fat inducing, grease covered, blood sugar boosting starch sticks.

Why am I sharing about making myself look like a nut case?  As I drove away I was still feeling frustrated.  Do you ever play a scene over in your mind and think of all the ways it could have gone differently?  Do you ever annoy yourself for making a big deal about something that really wasn't?  Or try to justify to yourself why a thing was okay?  All of this is what I was doing.

Here's what I decided with myself:  It was okay to be frustrated by something so silly as not getting what I thought I had paid for (I paid for a box of fries and got half of a box).  It was good to make it known to the person who I purchased it from.  I probably was a little overboard by taking the kids inside to fix it, but I certainly couldn't leave them in the van.  My frustration was okay at this point.  BUT - my reaction might have been bigger than I meant for it to be.  I was not rude or disrespectful to the people around me, BUT - I let french fries get me agitated - french fries.

Was that really worth my time?  There are so many things in this world that are WORTH getting frustrated and taking action about and I am so good at ignoring them.  Why do I choose to take action when it comes to things like french fries?

My challenge to myself is to pay attention to what's important.  Before I start to get upset about things that I feel are unjust in my world, stop to think about whether anyone's life will be improved by my taking action.  In reality - I don't think anyone's life was improved by my becoming french fry lady (other than maybe some poor potato farmer).

What gets you frustrated?  How do you take action?  Do you ever stop to think about whether a frustration is really worth your time and energy?


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