It’s been an interesting week. We were finally allowed back into our workplace after the earthquake last week. The building had been assessed by two independent engineers as being structurally safe. However the motion of the earthquakes had resulted in several burst water pipes which flooded several floors and caused significant water damage on top of the earthquake chaos. Workmen and cleaners had been in to do an initial clean up and repair damaged ceiling tiles and lighting, computers and printers etc. The carpet had been dried and most of the lights and computer equipment were restored but this week involved working without air conditioning (not that much of a big deal – just a bit warm at times) and amid the smell of ‘wet dog’ which is actually damaged carpet that I expect will be replaced at some point. It was good to get back to work and try to find a sense of our new normality.
As many of you will know, I battle with low self esteem and work in a government department that in pockets is quite distinctly unfriendly. I pretty much keep to myself but being me, I also take whatever opportunities arise to engage with people because that’s who I am. At one point this week I walked past a senior manager and we made eye contact so I said hello on my way past. He ignored me (as he usually does). Had we not made eye contact I wouldn’t have spoken but as he looked directly at me I felt it was appropriate to be polite so I spoke. He ignored me! He heard and saw me but chose to look past me and not even acknowledge my existence! As I went about my work I thought some ungracious thoughts and remained a little miffed for the next hour of so.
Later that morning I was talking to my boss on the phone. She works at a different site and I seldom see her but we communicate via phone and text. She is the best boss – so lovely, encouraging and supportive – I know what you’re thinking at this point ‘just like a boss should be’ – and you’d be right! I told her about my encounter and responded with “That’s so rude! Why do people behave like that?” “You’re asking me?” I said. She responded “Yeah, well don’t take it personally. You never know what’s been going on behind the scenes for him – maybe he’s got his own concerns and is just on another planet today and wasn’t really aware of your presence.” “Maybe” I said and we changed the subject. I put it behind me and moved on.
Yesterday I read the quote below:
At first I thought of myself and how I want to say this to the world.
And then I thought of him – the man that was rude to me. And it was a good reminder, like my boss had said, who knows what’s going on in someone else’s life. It’s time to be gracious and give him the benefit of the doubt. I might steer clear and give him a wider berth next week but he’s been through earthquakes and floods too. He may have things happening in his life I have no knowledge of, and while he is responsible for his choices and reactions, he deserves the same lack of judgement I wish for myself.