This week I had a wonderful moment of mindfulness that I wanted to share with you. My mother and I are both teachers, and we were excited when we found out our spring breaks lined up, and she could come visit my wife and I from Washington. I planned every activity this week, from hiking at Lake Tahoe, snowshoeing in Mt. Rose Meadows, and a two-day trip to San Francisco. My mother had never been to San Francisco, so I was very excited to show her all of the sights, and had several activities planned.
Our trip started out extremely well. We drove over to San Francisco early in the morning and decided to rent bicycles to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a spectacular time. The weather was absolutely amazing, and we made it to Sausalito and continued our adventure. In Sausalito we walked around the town, found a great lunch spot, and took the ferry around Alcatraz back into San Francisco.
It was an absolutely amazing day, and then this happened:
What a way to ruin a great day! I came back to my car to find a tire iron sitting on my front seat, and my driver’s side window in a nice pile on the parking lot floor. I walked down to parking lot attendant, and went to file a report about my car getting broken into. This “secure lot with cameras and security patrols” was a total joke. I asked to see the camera footage of my car being vandalized, but was told that guests were not allowed to view footage, or even seen the report they filed with the police. (Which leads me to believe they probably didn’t even file a report.)
Not only was our car broken into, the car next to mine was also broken into. We asked when did they notice our cars were broken into, and they couldn’t tell us for security reasons (or so they claimed). The only thing they would tell us (over and over again) was that they were not responsible or liable for any damages.
When we returned to my car, there wasn’t a single camera on the entire parking level in which I was parked, and their head of security was a total idiot. I have to imagine that you do not need a lot of training to watch cars for a living, but even still, this man seemed grossly under qualified. He called for a maintenance man to come help with the glass, and after waiting 45 minutes for him to show up, this comedy of errors progressed to a whole new level.
First, the maintenance man’s idea of cleaning the glass out of my car was to sweep the glass on the seat to the floorboard and celebrate his good job. I asked him if he would please sweep the glass out from under the car so I didn’t have to drive over it, and he thought it was an amazing idea! Next, the head of security picked up the tire iron used to break my window and dropped it on top of my car, having it fall onto the door, scratching the side of my car all of the way down.
During this whole debacle, my mother began to get angry. It’s hard to not feel violated and upset when someone breaks into your car, and with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum’s idiotic behavior in the parking lot, she began getting frustrated and impatient. It was at this time I had a well-timed moment of mindfulness. I didn’t get upset at all, much to the surprise of her or I. My mother asked me, “How are you not angry?”
I responded by telling her that yes, I was upset, but getting mad at these two workers wasn’t going to fix anything. I was able to focus on the present, keep my temperament, and not let one bad moment ruin what was an amazing day. In my mind I could see a crossroad where I had two choices:
1. I could get mad, yell at the inept security guards, get angry at the person who broke my window (who was long gone) or
2. Minimize my anger, focus on fixing the situation, and not let one horrible person’s act to ruin my vacation.
I chose the latter. I moved my car to the parking lot of my hotel, scheduled an appointment to get it fixed the next day, and was ready to go explore San Francisco even more.
After we cleaned up in the hotel room, and grabbed a cable car to go across town, my mom thanked me for handling the situation the way I did. She said it calmed her down, put her at ease, and it was what allowed us to have an amazing night.
Like I said before in a previous post, never let a bad moment lead to something more. It’s easy to be mindful and calm when life is easy, but with practice, even the most difficult and challenging situations can be seen with a clear and focused mind. Give it a try.