May 3, 2000
Three Kinds of People

 


 
Scene from my morning:

The way I see it, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who honk their car horns in traffic jams ...

... and those of us who want to strangle those of you who honk your car horns in traffic jams.

Guess which category *I'm* in?


      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

We spotted the helicopter swooping back and forth above The Posey Tube this morning, long before we reached the scene of the accident. It was one of those dorky KTVU "Power of 2" Telecopters, and it was hovering just above the tunnel entrance. At first we thought it was just a routine traffic check, but as we inched closer toward the Tube we could see emergency vehicles parked sideways across the road, blocking the opening to the tunnel.

That was when we realized that most of the traffic moving towards Oakland was not, in fact, *moving.*

"Well," said David matter-of-factly, "we're going to be late for work." And he swung the Subaru around and headed for the other side of Alameda, hoping to avoid the worst of the traffic mess.  Unfortunately, hundreds of other drivers had the same idea.  Long and short: it doesn't really matter where you were in Alameda between 7:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. this morning ... you weren't going anywhere. 

The entire island was at a standstill.

(But at least we weren't stuck in The Tube. See: raging case of claustrophobia/scotophobia/ochlophobia/earthquakeophobia. I would have been hanging from the ceiling by my fingernails for sure if we'd ended up stuck in the tunnel for fifty-nine minutes.)

It took us a full hour to get off Alameda and into downtown Oakland. While lesser-evolved souls, all around us, brandished middle fingers and cut each other off and pounded on their car horns  -- "Yeah, THAT'S gonna do everybody a big bunch of good!" I said in disgust  --  David and I put this little extra *morning-time* with each other to good use.

In other words: we talked to each other.

(AND we listened to Dave "Baby" Cortez and The Happy Organ! But that's another story for another day.)

"If you were me," I asked him   --  while we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and his brain was mine to pick  -- "What would your demeanor be towards Franz this morning?" I was still upset about last night's latest *Franz Encounter of the Turd Kind.* My little boss ran me ragged for eight hours straight, with me on limited reserves of strength, energy and tolerance molecules, and then caught me at 5:40 p.m. as I was literally heading out the door for home:

Franz: "I need that file. For that project."

Secra: "Which file for which project?"

Franz: "YOU know. That file I took to the last meeting."

Secra: "Which meeting for which project?"

Franz: (beginning to get testy) "YOU know. That project file I took to the last meeting."

Secra: (wearily surveying Franz' desktop, which -- during her Six-Day Enforced Impromptu *Vacation* -- has managed once again to collapse IN on itself, apparently)  "Franz, that doesn't mean anything to me. What, exactly, am I looking for? A project file? For which project? For which meeting?"

Franz: "For my meeting tonight."

Secra: "You have a meeting tonight? It's not on any of the calendars."

Franz: "I'm leaving in ten minutes."

Secra: "You're leaving in ten minutes and you wait until 5:30 p.m. to decide you need this file?"

Franz: "Everything was fine until you rearranged my office."

Secra: [silence]

Franz: [silence, followed by sound of two slamming doors]

It later turned out that he gave the much-ballyhooed file to one of his junior engineers. He'd just "forgotten" that he did so.  I was so upset when I left the office last night, I hiccupped in the car all the way home.

Now I was about to face my tormentor once again.

"Well," David said, "I like to go into every day brand-new, without any of the emotional baggage from the day before."  (Yeah.  He actually used the words "emotional baggage." But you know what? Coming from him, it didn't sound at ALL new-agey or John Teshlike. Or at least, not much.)  He said that generally he tries not to let the emotions from yesterday be the prevailing emotion of today. 

"If you and I have a disagreement, for instance," he said, "do I wake up and say 'Good morning, Honey. Did you sleep well? Would you like some coffee? And by the way, let's pick up that stoopid fight right where we left off, whaddya say?' "

I pointed out that this is not a particularly apt example, since the closest the two of us ever come to actual fighting is my occasional Big Pouty Face Moment whenever things don't go 110% my way. (Read this: When he falls asleep on the left side of the bed.)

"OK then," he said. "You and Franz. You had a disagreement last night, at the end of the day, and you both went home wanting to kill each other. Are you going to walk into your office and say, 'Hiya, Franz ... you unreasonable, self-centered, delusional buffoon: are you ready for your 10:30 a.m. conference call?' "

Um. No. Probably not.

"Then just go in and start all over again," he concluded. "Yesterday never happened." And then he paraphrased a line I'd posted on the website a few weeks ago: You lose a lot of time, being angry with people.

"And that's how *I* would handle it," he said. "Or you can just spit in his coffee again."

Now that I think about it, there are actually three kinds of people in the world. People who honk their car horns in a traffic jam. People (like yours truly) who want to strangle the people who honk their car horns in a traffic jam. And people like David, who simply open up the sun roof, crank up The Happy Organ on the car stereo ...

... and enjoy the journey.



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