The List of 3

I have certain strategies that keep my life outlook on track. Strangely to me, these sometimes come off as a fascinating quirk. One of those outlooks is to focus on the positive. Not because I like cliches nor aim to be nauseatingly cheerful, but because the negative just doesn’t feel good. And I like to feel good. Luckily, I tend to naturally forget bad stuff.

To the point of strategy, I have a rule that I am allowed a list of 3 people at work that I allow/recommend to myself to make an effort to remember that I don’t like them. The great thing about being an F/A is that we don’t take it home with us. The nastiest passenger is but a funny/incredible story 10 minutes after they walk off the plane. But I also meet all sorts up there. Some F/As are the sweetest; some are certifiable nut jobs. It’s also great that rarely do we have to put up with anyone for more than 3 days, so even if we seriously don’t click, it’s not too much to ask to rise above it for 3 days. At worst I can make sure I stay on opposite sides of the plane.

However, we do cross paths with the same colleagues over and over. I also rarely remember names so when I meet my crew for the day it is not uncommon for me to think: I don’t really remember this person, but I get the feeling I don’t like him/her” (or vice-versa). This is a strange experience to have. However, if I can’t remember why I get the feeling I do, I figure it can’t have been that bad or I could be mistaken. So I start fresh and see what happens. Even if I DO remember why I get that bad feeling, I let it go and do not repeat the story to others, assuming that we once just had a bad day.

But as much as I like my difficulty remembering the bad, that can be dangerous. There are some people whom it is better to remember to be wary of. That’s why I have “The List of 3”. Three people that I officially can’t stand. Three people who get no more “chances”. If I find a 4th, I have to chose to let someone else go. I just don’t want to dedicate a larger space in my life to remembering negativity.

This is all natural to me. But Del finds this fascinatingly quirky and has taken to telling the story. In turn, I find that amusing.

But if you’re on that list? It means you’ve done something really, or repeatedly, inappropriate. It means I no longer assume that you deserve respect. It means I will tell people who ask why I don’t like you. It doesn’t mean that I will be a jerk, it just means I will remember that you are one, so will not go out of my way to be all friendly.

Currently there is only 1 person on my list. I still can’t remember her name, but her face and offense is clear. (She’s a 40+ year old who saw fit to physically push me, at work, when she challenged me on a rule and turned out to be wrong. Future interactions corroborated her personality.) Ironically, the last time I flew with her she couldn’t remember why she recognized me. I never told her. When she kept taking guesses (“I know, didn’t we go out to dinner together on a Zurich layover?”) I would just look at her stone faced and say “No, that is not why you remember me,” and leave it there. The person who would be #2 hasn’t been seen in about 6 years, so I’ve let him go. The other person that was on the list? Well…what do you know? I honestly can’t remember.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The List of 3

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with Del. I think it’s wonderfully quirky, and deserves attention in his story-telling. The ability to forget offense is an incredible gift, and it is indeed a gift. I know only terribly few who actually have this ability. One of my friends, a co-worker, says he vividly remembers incidents from early, early childhood, and the longer he focuses on them the more clear they become. On the opposite side, I find this incredibly fascinating (and possibly disturbing). I’d hate to have that ability. I’d much rather be in your camp.

  2. Bruno

    Sarah,
    Let me offer this as a token of friendship.
    Unless I am lost in the wrong field when trying to capture the human value of your system, I have big difficulty understanding that you “like to feel good” and “tend to naturally forget bad stuff”, when on the other side I contemplate the way you reacted to Ms. Number One on your list. Even if I take into account the fact you have been seriously offended by her behaviour, I think a great opportunity has been missed during your last encounter for an open discussion or problem-solving approach. As any other human being, I have been involved many times into similar situations but I generally tried to manage those issues in my best (and by extension, common) interest. I find interesting that the subject lady had forgotten the so cruel-to-you incident and that she even thought you could have been friends during a dinner in Zurich: obviously at your last encounter, her perception of you was pretty positive, and you could have taken advantage of this event to express your anger or sadness… and see her reaction. As you and she seem to belong to the same environment, your unopened conflict is likely to remain and tensions will increase.
    To reduce my stress level and afford myself peaceful dreams at night, I try to act as a forgiver, which is never easy but always rewarding.
    Now you know me better as a human being, since we had not discussed this topic yet.
    Friendly yours at a distance,
    Bruno

  3. bigSister

    It sometimes takes years to discover that negative people wear us down. To believe that there truly are “negative people”. To embrace that turning our cheek 100 times gives us nothing more than neck pains. Good for you! Quirky… no. It is a great system for putting anxiety-producing people at a safe distance. I think I may adopt it.

  4. Rob Delaney

    Hey, sis, when you coming back over here?

    Bruno clearly embodies the christian spirit there of “do unto others as you would have done unto you”.

    My personal view is more left hand path than that: Bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, retaliate.

  5. I see what you’re saying, Bruno. But you deny the value of personal boundaries. Everybody should have some. I have come to firmly believe that negativity should be remembered sparingly, but forgiving and forgetting *every* offense isn’t necessarily healthy. I’ve learned a precious few things in my days…how to chose wisely whom I spend my energy on is one of them!

  6. Bruno makes a good point. However, reading between the lines (I think that means I inferred it), an attempt was made to do this initially, which failed to bring reconciliation. Sarah is correct that boundaries are not only necessary for our lives, but good and healthy, and should be thoughtfully examined. Even the good teacher said not to throw pearls before swine, but precedes it with the well known injunction to “judge not” and began by blessing those that make peace, are meek, show mercy, and yet are persecuted for doing the right thing. This gives me pause.

    Bruno is right about forgiveness. A measure of redemption in a relationship brings a richness not surpassed by 1000 smooth interactions. But then, even assuming the confrontation goes swimmingly, let’s not pretend this fixes it. There are still boundary issues and questions of trust. Those can only be built over time. No, forgive and forget is best, and forgiveness is awesome and holy, but appropriate relational buffers are also needed. We must be good stewards of our time, $, and energy.

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