Well, What Did You Expect?

I expect that since sales people are hired here to wait on customers, these two will stop their social chatter long enough to attend to me.

It’s a false assumption based on the recollection of my evenings as part-time grocery bagger when I was in high school. One time, the kid working the checkout stand next to mine

The sales clerks will stand there behind the counter and continue their chat (“I got so drunk last night.” “Did you see that cute guy in the shoe department?” “What’s gotten into Eleanor?”) while I stare at them, holding the item I’d like to purchase.

Am I invisible? Is their conversation so important that it can’t be interrupted for one minute to ring me up? If they were hatching a workable plan for world peace I would be willing to wait. But that isn’t the topic that has them so engrossed, they can’t be bothered to do their job.

I start to get annoyed. Consider finding the manager to complain. Maybe they’ll get in trouble.

No, they probably won’t. And that realization get’s me started on the road to stressville. Time for an expectation check.

I expect that since sales people are hired here to wait on customers, these two will stop their social chatter long enough to attend to me.

It’s a false assumption based on the recollection of my evenings as part-time grocery bagger when I was in high school. One time, the kid working the checkout stand next to mine was observed, by the night manager, examining a cereal carton–perhaps curious about the prize inside–rather than just quickly shoving it into the customer’s grocery bag. My colleague didn’t finish reading the package. In fact he wasn’t allowed to finish his shift.

Maybe it’s not the sales clerks who should be scolded. This would be “my bad” for expecting today’s workplace standards to resemble the behavior required fifty years ago.

And the expectation that the guy in the green Ford in front of me is going to get over in the left lane before turning left, or will drive faster than seven miles an hour, or will slow down when the traffic ahead is stopped?

Oh, that’s not a guy. I finally get the chance to pass, and notice it’s a woman behind the wheel–a woman steering with one hand, holding a mascara brush in the other. And she’s leaning forward, staring into her rear view mirror.

I resist the temptation to blast my horn at her. I know what her response would be–can almost hear her say: “what’s your problem?”

Get this: the driver’s endangering herself and those in all the cars around her by stupidly putting on her makeup while driving, paying more attention to proper eye lining than basic safety…and that’s my problem?!

In fact it is. Don’t I realize that at any give moment, there’s bound to be a percentage of people on the highways and roadways of America who are DUI (driving unconscious imbeciles)?

And in case it appears I’m critical just of women, I should report that one guy who consistently fails to meet my expectations is…actually, it’s me.

I can get really stressed when I fall behind my goal of producing one blog every day. A blog a day. That’s all I expect.

Is it a reasonable expectation? If I were an athlete, would I expect to run a daily four-minute mile? And be cross with myself for having taken six seconds longer than that to complete the mile last Tuesday?

Shouldn’t I have finished editing all the images from our trip when I sat at the computer yesterday? I only got to about half of them. What’s wrong with me?

True, the Internet was down for awhile and I wasn’t able to download all the tools I needed. Yes, it’s the first time I’ve worked with the software, and it’s a bit complicated for someone who’s not really skilled at these tasks.

No matter. I have that sour taste in my mouth, a reliable signal that let’s me know I’m feeling stressed.

I expected to have that project finished by now. And it’s not. No, there’s no deadline. Our spinning planet won’t screech to a halt and start rotating in the other direction if the images aren’t all edited till tomorrow. Or even next week.

Point is, it was my expectation that the editing portion of my project would be done by today, so that I could start assembling them into an electronic album.

I’m trying to teach myself to realize that harboring expectations is not a particularly useful habit. Having an expectation about something doesn’t change what happens in the world. It only causes me to be unsatisfied, disgruntled, sometimes angry. Always stressed.

I’m starting to learn it. In fact, by the end of the week, I expect to have that lesson mastered.

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