Do you know these moments when you’d like to be not friendly, patient and understanding?
Last summer my son and I came to the ferry port in Dover. At the check-in, my German self always comes through – sorry I can’t help it!
We always feel when we come to Calais or Dover, that we pick the wrong queue, and this time we were proved right. We were waiting in our queue and the cars to our right and left disappeared, one after the other but our queue didn’t seem to be moving, or at a snail’s pace.
As a result we missed the ferry which we easily could have caught, but now we had to wait for about an hour for the next one. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we had had plenty of time and if we’d been in another queue we’d have got onto the ferry as the other cars from the right and left, which I remembered from waiting in the queue, had disappeared.
When you have such a long drive ahead of you, you’re happy about every hour you come home earlier. The coach & trainer inside me, though, tried to soothe me and admonished me to be more rational by telling me that there were more important things in life and coming home sound and safe were definitely more important. True. But I didn’t want to be understanding and rational; I wanted to nurture my bad mood. So, when I went into a petrol station in Belgium and the guy at the counter wasn’t super friendly, I didn’t bother to be friendly myself. I wasn’t rude but I wasn’t sweet either just a lot more matter of fact and determined.
On the German motorway later, after two weeks of relaxed driving in England, it took only about 40 minutes when a car behind me showed up, driving really close and trying to push me out of the way. I wasn’t in the mood to be pushed away and I just thought: “F… off, you’ve chosen the wrong one. I’ve been on the road now for 9 hours and you aren’t pushing me out of the way.” And a bit later a second one tried it again and I thought: “Welcome back to the German motorway, Bettina.”, and I fantasised with my son what we would do to them. I felt good! I also drove pretty fast myself, me who always said that I like the speed limit on British motorways (and I still do!). It felt good to let off steam but I never drove unsafe, let alone risked other people’s lives.
By the time we arrived home and had a warm welcome from my husband, I felt relaxed. If I had forced myself to be nice and rational, I wouldn’t have been so relaxed after the long drive. I never overstepped any line and I didn’t take it too far, I just was not nice, not sweet and not understanding.
So often, we do feel pressure to be composed and sweet, even if things are not going our way. We don’t owe strangers smiles and nicey niceness. As long as we’re not rude, who is it hurting?
I listened to myself, to my needs, and I allowed myself to be not perfect – it felt good.