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The importance of attitude

Saturday was a long day. I woke up early and gutted our sunroom, and worked on other home projects. After about 6 hours of this, I ran 9 miles as part of my current half marathon training plan. The 4.5 miles out was easy with the cold wind at my back. The return trip was much more challenging. When I got back home, I continued the sunroom project. At around 8:30 that night I decided to head over to the local big box building materials store to get drywall. I like going to the building supply store near closing time. It’s easier to get in and out without dealing with crowds and parking.

I asked for help loading the cart. They sent over a guy who was in his mid-60s. He was fit, fun, and didn’t complain at all. I love to talk, and also enjoy hearing other peoples’ stories. He’s retired and works to stay busy. He likes people. I thanked him for helping load the cart, and pushed the 300+ pound cart to the registers and paid.

I asked for help loading my truck. The cashier turned to an employee nearby and asked him to help me load. He grumbled that it’s not his job, and made some vague comments about the indignity of having to load a truck. He caught me off-guard, since I wasn’t expecting to have the person assume an attitude in front of me. He grimaced at me while grabbing his jacket, then followed me out. I pushed the cart to my truck. He trailed far enough behind to not feel obligated to help push.

When we got to my truck, I grabbed one side of the first sheet. He asked me how I wanted to put them in the truck – as though there was more than one option. When I explained that we’d lift the sheet off the cart and carry it to the truck, he said he had a bad back and couldn’t do much. He insisted I drag the drywall across the cart. Then he chose hand holds on the sheet opposite of mine, and then carried the sheet down the other side of the truck. Like a wing…

I felt like he was intentionally being difficult since he didn’t want to load my truck. With minimal damage, we got the first sheet in. As we started the second sheet he doubled-down on his attitude, rubbing his back and groaning. Brushing the chalk off his stylish jacket. Moving slowly. I calmly told him to go away. I then converted my anger into energy and loaded the rest of the drywall alone.

Driving home I thought about what it takes for someone to arrive in such a negative space that they choose to project an attitude instead of finding a solution. Maybe his happiness is founded in irritating others. Maybe he’s trapped in a job he doesn’t like. I’ll never know. Regardless, his attitude can’t do a lot to help his current situation.

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