When I drove into the parking lot, the attendant asked me for $10. I handed it to him and he gave me a receipt.
When I drove up to exit, he lifted the gate and I noticed that the posted rate for the amount of time I was there was $8, not $10.
I asked him for my $2 back.
He told me that I should have told him when I arrived that I wasn’t going to be there for more than 2 hours. I calmly explained that this was not my fault, but his for asking me for $10 when I drove in, and that I wanted my $2 back.
He pointed to a sign that read, “No refunds given.”
“Come on,” I said and waited.
He waited, too.
A car behind me, sensing that no transaction was happening and seeing that the gate had already lifted, honked.
I said, “I’d like your supervisor’s number.”
He looked at me stone-faced me and waited. (At this point I realized that he had probably done this before, that I wasn’t going to get my $2, and that the longer I waited the longer it would take me to get home. He, on the other hand, was probably paid by the hour; plus a few extra dollars on the side ripping off patrons like me.)
The one beep from the horn behind me multiplied.
“Asshole,” I said as I punched the gas and left. (Hey, I’m human – and, like most other human being, I then chastised myself for my being human and losing my cool.)
On the ride home, I called my friend Marla and told her about the incident.
I exclaimed to her, “I can’t believe I’m so angry over $2.”
She said something very wise that made me feel better, “You have every right to be angry, you were ripped off.”
How right she was.
The amount wasn’t the important thing and my telling myself that I shouldn’t be upset was not helping me.
When I’m angry or upset, I often tell myself that I shouldn’t be.
And I know I’m not alone.
So many of us commit spiritual-religious violence to ourselves when we tell ourselves that we ought not feel the exact way that we are currently feeling.
What if, instead of berating ourselves, we all heard compassionate voices telling us that it is all right for us to feel exactly as we feel?
Spiritual-religious advice for the week is also the title of a Cat Stevens song: If you want to sing out, sing out.