Friday, May 23, 2014

Coming Across

This website and this website both deal with a book by don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements. 

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don't take anything personally
  • Don't make assumptions
  • Always do your best
Sounds simple, at first.

Try it. Just for an hour, when you are in the company of other living breathing fallible warts and all people. Not an easy thing to do, because we are all too human in our actions and reactions. I am reminded of this today because I felt really insulted by something that was said to me while I was working yesterday evening.

I am working as a cashier in a convenience store in the town of Lebanon, Virginia. Lebanon is where I drive to when I write of "going to town" or "going to the store". I was out of work from October of 2010 until March of this year, about 3 1/2 years. I am thankful, grateful, elated, blessed to have a source of income. I am not working a steady 40 hours a week, but my bank account, my need for human interaction, and my health are all benefitting from my trip across the mountain four days a week. 

I blogged very recently about not being middle-class and not being average. The interaction at work yesterday included being referred to as poor several times by a customer. That bothered me. How can you stand in a place of business and say to the person waiting on you that you consider them poor? That you pity them "having to work in a convenience store"? Do you know me personally? She did not. Does she know where I bank, or how much property I own, or what expenses or debts I may be burdened with at this time? Perhaps I am recently retired with a full pension and am working because I am bored because my children are grown and the nest is empty. Perhaps I am a professional who has taken on a second job to finance a trip to Europe when I go on sabbatical next year. What if I were finishing up a doctorate in Sociology or Economics and had taken the job to have a real life experience to illustrate an important position argument?



I turned to The Four Agreements.

  1. Be impeccable with your word Had I in some way represented myself as needing or expecting the appellation of "poor"? Being impeccable with your word goes beyond the verbal. We write, we swear oaths, we sign contracts, we communicate in many non-verbal ways "our word".
  2. Don't take anything personally Okay, that one was easy. Too easy. I felt insulted. I took personally what may or may not have meant to be an insult. If it were meant as a slur, the problem was in her perception, her reality, not mine. Had she been in or was she currently in a personal situation that instigated the perception that cashiering in a convenience store was a less than honorable way of earning a paycheck?
  3. Don't make assumptions I made the assumption that the words I took personally were intended to insult me. wow. A freight train of assumtptions there, Ellen. Good going. Go you!
  4. Always do your best I did not do my best. I was not impeccable in my word to myself, for I have covenanted with myself to strive to live more in line with the simply worded yet oh so complex philosophy put forth in The Four Agreements. I took another's words, tone, attitude, and appearance personally. I made assumptions. 
Coming across is how one person is perceived, and received in an interaction. When there is more than one person present, the process of coming across multiplies in direct relation to the number of people present.

Something to remember.

Keeping it real on a Friday afternoon.

I wish for all who read this to be a blessing and to be blessed in the blessing.

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