The Things That Set Us Off

We all have different emotional triggers. Sometimes the contrast between what sets us off and what doesn't is pretty funny.

John is the most even-tempered person I have ever met. (And when you can say that about someone you've lived with for more than seven years, that's saying a lot.) His level, easygoing, steady-as-a-rock personality has been soothing and stabilizing for me more times than I can count. He's calm and collected in the midst of stress. He never gets angry at me or raises his voice. The only way I can ever tell that he is possibly not having the best day or he is feeling slightly irritated with me is when he ends a sentence with "Dear" in that certain tone that probably every wife has heard at some point in a marriage. But in almost eight years as a couple, no disagreement has ever escalated into a fight between us. He says he had a pretty bad temper when he was young, but you would never know that today. He's just mellow. And he is not easily provoked.

EXCEPT when driving or sports are involved. He gets so irritated and annoyed with other drivers that it just makes me laugh. The reason it's funny to me is that other drivers don't annoy me at all. If they are aggressive, I just move out of their way. If I mess up, I don't blame another driver or get angry because I'm really embarrassed (the way I have seen a lot of other drivers react). I'm very apologetic and mouth "I"M SO SORRY" to the other guy. If someone gets angry at me on the road unprovoked, I laugh. It doesn't bother me in the least. It's pretty much impossible for another person on the road to really upset me.

Same with sports. Oh, I am disappointed when my team plays poorly or loses a game they should have won. We go to a lot of Titans games and I have become a serious Titans fan. I want to win. And I would love to go to a Super Bowl. But my day is never blown by a loss. I don't feel much emotion over it. I'm more like, "Oh well..." But those are two things that John will react to with great emotion. You should have heard him yelling at those Kentucky players last night. He was mad at them. He was mad at Calipari. At one point, he had to leave the room. And you should hear him playing Wii golf in the bonus room. It cracks me up.

And last night I really cracked him up.

I am an emotional person. I remember reading a quiz to a friend once and asking her what one word best described me as a person. She said "passionate." Lots of things bring tears to my eyes, both good and bad. But I very rarely get angry. That's just not the way I react. Even things that greatly upset me don't usually make me mad. Off the top of my head I can think of only two things I react to with anger. One is apathy toward the suffering of others. I get very angry with people who are apathetic and dismiss or overlook injustice that isn't done to them personally (especially when those same people feel outraged over perceived injustices done to themselves). I can get very worked up and heated up over that.

Being provoked to anger by apathy and injustice could be considered a good thing; righteous indignation even. But the other thing that really makes me mad is pathetic and embarrassing. And you probably won't be surprised (if you haven't already guessed).

Food disappointments. I can turn into a you know what (starts with a b) when food is involved. My reaction is out of proportion to the situation. And I recognize that almost immediately. But usually not until after I have vented some of the frustration.

Illustration:

Last night we went to the five o'clock service at church. We had decided ahead of time to pick up a Jet's Pizza (South Rutherford location) on the way home and watch the UK/UConn game. John got the number and put it in his phone so we could order it as we were leaving the church parking lot and it would be ready about the time we got there. We stopped, he went in and got the pizza, and we drove the rest of the way  home. We never opened the box until we set it down on the kitchen counter. We had ordered and paid for sausage, mushroom and onion. Guess what was in the box? Pepperoni pizza.

I was instantly mad. John does not like pepperoni pizza. And although I knew he would have just eaten it (he takes food disappointments in stride like I take other drivers in stride), that was an unacceptable option to me. I knew I was going to drive back to Jet's and get the pizza we wanted. But I was extremely annoyed that I was going to have to drive "all the way" (about ten minutes each way) back to their store for the pizza I should have gotten in the first place. Do you think I called and sweetly told the manager about the mistake? No. Although I wasn't ugly or hateful with him, I wanted him to know I was being inconvenienced. And when he said, "We'll be happy to make you a new one," I thought to myself, Really? That's all you're going to offer to do?

I shot back, "Don't you think you should do something to compensate me for having to drive all the way back to your store?" (This is really funny to me now.) He offered to throw in some cheese bread. And I accepted. That diffused my anger a little bit. But the funny thing is that I really didn't even want cheese bread or I would have ordered it. I just felt like he needed to do something to appease me for getting my pizza wrong and the inconvenience of my having to return to the store. And I was indignant about it. However, at this point, the anger was already dissipating. The minute he agreed to offer something -- even bread I didn't want -- for my inconvenience, I started to feel like an idiot for making such a big deal out of it. I literally hung up the phone and said to John, "What is wrong with me?" I wondered if he would spit on my cheese bread. LOL.

So, I returned to Jet's expecting a FRESH pizza (only a little bit annoyed now). When the manager told me on the phone that he was making a new one, I asked if he would make the new one with the Turbo Crust instead of just the butter. I had seen on the take-out menu (on our first drive home) that they had a butter crust with garlic and romano cheese added. I hadn't known about the Turbo Crust option when I ordered butter crust. He said he would be happy to make it that way for me and added, "The Turbo Crust is my favorite." And I was thinking, Oh well, at least I'll get to try the Turbo Crust now.

It did cross my mind that they might try to give me the original pizza (if it hadn't already been given to the person who ordered the pepperoni pizza) after it had spent 20-30 minutes in the warmer. But I thought, No, he promised a fresh pizza with a different crust. He won't do that.

I arrived and handed the pepperoni pizza to the girl at the counter. As the manager went to get a freshly made cheese bread, the girl at the counter reached into the warmer for a box and asked the manager, "Is this the right pizza?" And he said it was. In that moment, I knew they had not made a fresh pizza as promised. But there was no way I could prove it and I didn't want to make a scene. I just asked the manager point blank, "Did you remake a FRESH pizza for me?" He looked me right in the eye and said emphatically, "Yes."

He lied. I brought it home and there was a noticeable difference (in taste and temperature) between the freshly made cheese bread and the not-so-fresh pizza. But what made it obvious that a new pizza wasn't made was the butter crust. There was a definite lack of garlic or romano cheese in it. And being lied to by the store manager after he promised to remake the pizza was insulting, not just disappointing. I wanted to call him and tell him, "I know and you know you lied to me." But I didn't. He'd already made it obvious that he didn't care about disappointing his customers. So I went online and wrote a complaint to corporate. And only then could I set the whole situation aside and enjoy the basketball game.

Later on, John and I were talking about my reaction and I was saying how I wish I didn't react that way. Of course, Allen had just talked in his sermon about losing your Christianity in the parking lot leaving church. That isn't my weakness. But getting the wrong pizza HAD made me act in a way unbecoming a Christ follower. I had an opportunity to be gracious and I was anything but that. When I behave this way, I feel disappointed in myself. I don't want to be this way. Even in little things.

John got this little grin on his face and I said, "Tell me what's amusing you." He said, "I could make a Saturday Night Live skit out of this, you know." And then he started to contrast my under-reaction to a woman driving into the side of my car this week with my over-reaction to being given the wrong pizza. He impersonated me, recreating the scene I had described to him of hugging the little old lady who had hit me (she decided to change lanes without looking and turned into me as I was driving along in my own lane). As we finished up with the police officer, I hugged her and told her, "These things happen." I never felt angry that she'd hit me or spoke any words of blame to her. I told the officer I thought maybe I was in her blind spot and she didn't see me. I felt sorry for her. Nobody wants to have a car wreck and especially be at fault.

And immediately following his impersonation of me being sweet and gracious to the lady who hit me, he impersonated me reacting to a food offense. "Oh, these things -- car accidents -- just happen ... BUT BY GOSH YOU BETTER GET MY PIZZA RIGHT OR I'LL HAVE YOUR HEAD!" I just died laughing. John said, "The only time you react that way is when FOOD is involved! You're so funny." And then he added, "I would have just eaten the wrong pizza." I said, "But you don't even like pepperoni. And we PAID for THREE toppings!" He said, "Whatever. I still would have just eaten it."

I hope to someday react differently. How awesome would it be if our natural reactions to things that annoy us could be sweet, kind, gracious and loving every time?!  I really do want my reaction to all offenses to be gracious and kind. But, as you can see, I'm a long way from where I want to be and where I should be.

I'm glad I can laugh at myself about it.
But even better will be when I can change it.
I am not content to stay the way I am.
However, I do console myself with, "At least I can see myself and confess my shortcomings."
God, I sincerely repent for not being able to turn the other cheek in such a trivial matter!
Food is way too important to me and this is the evidence.

Oh well, I gave John a good belly laugh and I hope I can give you a good chuckle, too.
Even if it is at my own expense.
The one thing I don't do is take myself way too seriously... ; )

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