Don’t let Angry be the New Black


A few weeks ago I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some avocados. I don’t usually shop at Trader Joe’s. Their parking lot was clearly designed by the owner of the local body shop looking to generate new business, but the store was on the way to another appointment so I thought I’d brave it.

I grabbed my avocados and stood in line. The woman in front of the register had two carts of groceries and the most adorable little girl, with whom I played peek-a-boo while awaiting my turn. Just as the cashier was about to ring up my purchase, a woman lined up behind the register pronounced, “I AM NEXT IN LINE. THIS WOMAN CUT IN FRONT OF ME.”

I was confused. “I only saw one shopper in line when I got here.”

The other woman, full of righteous indignation, replied, “I DON’T CARE HOW MANY ITEMS YOU HAVE. YOU CAN’T JUST CUT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. YOU MUST GO CHECK OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE.” She sent me off with a pointy finger. The cashier said nothing. I took my avocados a few lines away and made sure she’d left the store before I made my way to the car.

It was my fault. I lined up on the wrong side of the register. It’s backwards from what I’m used to. But I had been standing there with my bag of avocados for at least five minutes playing toddler games. Was it impossible to say to me, “Excuse me, but I’m next in line?” I would have apologized and taken my rightful place. Instead, the woman created her own narrative that because I had one item, I felt entitled to take a spot ahead of everyone else. By the look on her face, admonishing me was the highlight of her day.

I’m just grateful no one videotaped the interaction to post on the internet. Social media shaming is the new planking. Everyone is doing it, but it doesn’t really have a point.

When the heck did everyone get so angry? It’s like we’re all stomping around, elbows out, looking for a reason to let our frustration flag fly. Just this week, the parent of one of the Dude’s little campers went off on a kid he thought had picked on his son. Instead of talking to the counselors, he went Charlie Sheen on a seven-year-old.

With so much ire in the atmosphere is it any wonder that every day we hear about another incomprehensible, random act of violence. We say something has to change, and then we forget until it happens again. There’s nothing we can do, right?

Or is there?

I get it. Life is stressful and complicated, but I believe we reap what we sow. Maybe the woman at Trader Joe’s had a good a story to tell when she got home, but what if she cut me some slack and forgave me over a two minute transaction? What if she pointed out my queuing faux pas then graciously offered to let me go ahead?

The planet is getting too hot under the collar. So starting this week, I’m going on a Self-righteous Anger Free diet. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s good for me, and for the environment too. It reduces my use of fertilizer and conserves energy. We are so careful about what we put in our bodies these days–Sugar Free, Fat Free, GMO Free, Gluten Free. We should be just as careful about how we feed our souls.

If you care to join me, Self-Righteous Anger Free products can be found wherever you shop, and for once, cost much less than their counterparts. You might even find them at Trader Joe’s. Just be careful in the parking lot.

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