Connection writer Stacie Chadwick shares both joy and pain each month in Reading Between the Pines – a personal account of laughter, reflection, transitions and decisions. Some columns are reflective, representing a “true believer in all things good” perspective on life, while others are a little more shallow, because a small amount of superficiality can sometimes inspire laughter.
By Stacie Chadwick
On a recent Monday morning, I impatiently stood at the front of a long post office line. With an internal clock calculating the minutes until I was late for my next stop, I wasn’t exactly the picture of poise and grace. As the woman behind the counter labored to keep up with the demand of a day better known as “the absolute last chance to deliver a Squatty Potty for my great aunt's birthday without selling a kidney to get it there on time,” I huffed and fumed.
I’d like to say I was late to a high-stakes hostage negotiation where, without me, lives would be lost. But I was actually on my way to a tennis match. I was behind not so much due to this woman’s job execution, but because I went down the rabbit hole better known as “teen perp alert” on Nextdoor.com when I should have been out the door. Nothing strikes fear in a mother of teen drivers like a video of some kid drag racing down the middle of Castle Pines Parkway that’s coincidentally shared with 1,400 communities and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. It’s mesmerizing, but luckily it was your kid, not mine.
At the post office, the woman behind the counter struggled. I was unsympathetic. She was in a tough position, and as people left the line in frustration, I found myself in a place of sanctimonious strength. I let out my seasoned mom sigh. She rolled her eyes. I whispered, loudly, that her job wasn’t that hard. She accused me of being the reason why she couldn’t keep up. We were in a standoff, and as my turn at the counter finally came, I stared at her from a chasm of pronounced silence, intent on being the self-proclaimed winner.
Which I was. And it felt great. Until about 3.2 minutes later as I sat in my car and wondered why? Why did I need to win a battle with no reward? Why didn’t I take my ego out of the equation and acknowledge hers? Why couldn’t I have just been nice because that’s what I am most of the time. Nice.
I’d like to take my actions back, but I can’t. I’ve gone to the post office twice to apologize for my behavior, but she’s gone. And now, without the ability to say I’m sorry, I’m left with a loss that ultimately bears the fruit of one of the loneliest feelings in the world. Regret. It hurts, but regret is almost always the aftermath of a self-inflicted wound. Life doesn’t offer a do-over card, no matter how much you want to pull it from your deck.
There’s no doubt that I’ll end up at the post office again, in line with not enough time and too much to do. And when that happens? I’m gonna keep my mouth shut, bury my face in my phone, and go right back down that rabbit hole.
To read more from Stacie, check out her blog at https://readingbetweenthepines.com/.