I went out to have drinks with a group of local friends recently. We met at the same place we always do, sat at the same table, drank the same wine and ordered the same food we know we love.
We are certainly creatures of habit when it comes to our monthly night out, but one thing that can never be predicted is the things we will talk about that will have us bent over laughing.
We were in particularly high spirits on this night – there had been good health news for one, a new client for another, and a rather dramatic episode of Grey’s Anatomy to discuss – but we are a group of women in our 40s-70s, so while our conversation may have been a bit animated, we were not exactly knocking back shots and dancing on the tables.
So, we were a bit surprised when a couple sitting on a nearby table complained about us so loudly that we could hear them over our own excited babble. They were offered a table in a quieter part of the buzzy restaurant, which they refused, preferring to be tortured by our laughter instead.
Every time our conversation went up a decibel, one of them objected noisily about the ‘screeching’ while the other theatrically covered his ears.
As their evening came to an end, the couple approached our table to tell us how loud and ghastly they thought we all were and to demonstrate their point, the gentleman even protected his ears with his palms again.
We were stunned, but as grown middle-aged women that we are, we brushed it off.
However, it did leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste on our evening and we were left wondering why some people take themselves so seriously.
When there is much in the world to feel genuinely angry about, why waste valuable time and energy chastising others over nothing?
Although nothing to us was obviously something to them, but it would have been just as easy to ignore us, move to a quieter table, or politely ask us to keep it down. Yet, they decided the best way to deal with the annoyance – us – was to make their disapproval known to everyone in the restaurant.
This couple is not alone in blowing seemingly meaningless (in the big scheme of things) events out of proportion.
Families fall out with each other every day other ‘nothing’. Friendships are tested all the time over ‘nothing’.
The Greek God(zilla) regularly loses his cool over people who park their car in the middle of two spaces, and if a van should park up outside our house he’ll be twitching at the window every 2-minutes until it leaves.
I am no better. If I feel stressed or under pressure I can definitely be more sensitive and am easily outraged by other people’s rudeness. If I hold a door open for someone, give them the right of way, or chase after them down the street to return a dropped glove and they do not say thank you, I will call out YOU’RE WELCOME very loudly after them. I have no idea why I let it bother me so much.
It may be because many of us consider our own needs to be the most important; but in placing ourselves at the centre of everything we risk becoming unnecessarily offended over ‘nothing’, when it was really never about us in the first place.
Why has that person not responded to my email yet? *sends snarky message to chase*
It’s so selfish for one car to take up 2 parking spaces, where am I expected to park? *boils*
Can’t he see how much room he is taking up on this train? *pushes and tuts loudly*
That child jumping the queue for the swings obviously has no boundaries at home… *offers parenting advice*
How dare she say that to me… *mutters under breath and gives cold shoulder*
Although being conscientious at work, hard working and caring about others are obviously great qualities to have, getting so worked up over people who do not behave as we would, or about situations that do not go our way, is tedious.
Whether you are vocal with your disapproval or choose to communicate it through thinly veiled ‘I’m fine’s’ or even worse, the dreaded silent treatment, what you are really saying is “why are you not thinking about MY needs, MY feelings, MY time”.
I don’t know their situation, but perhaps the couple in the restaurant would enjoy life more if they lightened up a bit. Maybe we all would!
There are far more important things to get your knickers in a twist about than a group of friends having fun, where people park, or whether someone remembers to thank you.
It is not all about you. But, it’s not all about them either.