This week I went from Maui to Pittsburgh to Atlanta (where I am tonight and in the morning) and I return home tomorrow evening. It’s not a route that makes much sense when you think about it, so I try not to. As anyone in my line of work will tell you, the travel is dictated by the clients’ events, not the other way around. That translates into untold hours zipping around on planes, loitering in airports and snoring in hotel rooms.
I admit that all this travel can make me a little impatient. I’ve been working on it. I’ve been trying to catch that little burbling volcano of frustration before it erupts. Patience. Tolerance. That’s what I’m trying to culture in myself. Traveling gives me LOTS of opportunities to practice.
Last week, at a sandwich shop in the Albany, NY airport, I ordered a hot turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. The young woman behind the counter shook her head and said, “Turkey sandwiches are made on white bread.”
“‘Scuse me?” I asked.
“Turkey sandwiches are made on white bread,” she repeated. “That’s the rule.”
“The rule?” And…breathe, two, three, four. “Where,” I asked, “is that rule written? Is it a New York state law?” And, breathe six, seven, eight. “Is it a universal rule? Like gravity? Or thermodynamics?”
“No,” she scoffed. “The boss says so: turkey goes on white bread.”
“The boss…” I caught myself at early eruption. “Okay, then, if you can’t put it on wheat, forget the whole thing. I’ll pass.”
“Okay, fine,” she said. “I’ll put it on wheat.”
“Thank you,” I said, feeling quite proud of my self-control. But then, before I could catch myself, I slipped right into passive-aggressive muttering mode. “A white bread rule?” I sneered under my breath. “Unbelievable! What the hell kind of way is that to do business?”
Apparently it was an audible sneer.
“Jeez,” the white-bread-only sandwich maker crowed. “What’s your problem? I’m doing you a favor.”
This is what I said to myself next:
“A favor? You’re doing me a favor? Listen, toots, I’m doing you a favor by not vaulting over that counter and tap-dancing barefoot in your condiments. I’m doing you a favor by not calling your boss and telling him that his employee has a virulent Ebola-like infection and she’s sneezing on the customers. I’m doing you a favor by…”
Here’s what I said out loud:
Spit-free turkey on wheat was my reward.
And I learned something, too:
On the road to zen-like patience,
Zantac is a wonderful thing.