I received an e-mail alert from the public library. My account was being charged for a damaged book I had recently returned.
This e-mail came on a leisurely Saturday morning. I’d slept in and had a plan to write most of the day after breakfast. Once I received the alert, my calm spirt left, replaced by a reactionary, anxious spirit bent on righting this grave injustice.
My mind recalled what has happened. I had reserved 4 thick SAT preparation manuals for my daughter. They sat on the dining room table for days until I forced her to begin studying using the volume I gave her. One of the manuals was for the redesigned SAT. This and the other books were never opened because she was talking the current SAT. Some time later, we returned all the books except for the one I gave her to study.
How could we damage a book we never cracked? Aha! Someone else had damaged it and returned it to the library. The personnel didn’t notice until I returned the book. I phoned the library branch to get to the bottom of this.
I must include some background. For almost 8 months, I worked at the public library part time. I know how something like this could have happened. Surely if I spoke with someone there, they could help me. I phoned the workroom. When the person answered, I launched into an explanation. The speaker cut me off. Apparently the library wasn’t open. She directed me to call back at 10 am. I name dropped, asking for the branch manager, but she wasn’t available. The person I spoke with was the Assistant Branch Manager, who began working there after left.
My breathing was shallow. My heart was racing. I had to right this wrong. I couldn’t sit down to write because I was too wound up. Instead, I made some breakfast and my coffee. Then I began practicing my monologue. Remembering that I knew some people on the inside, I texted a friend who worked there and asked if she was working. I briefly explained what was happening and then asked if the branch manager was in too. She told me she wasn’t working and she wasn’t sure of the manager was working that day either. Explaining that the branch manager was very stern on these issues, she didn’t give me hope that it would be resolved in my favor. I assured her I would be a pest about it.
Finally at 10 am, I phoned the library explained my situation and the person on the other end removed the fine, blowing all the winds out of overreacting sails! While I was happy for this outcome, I realized that my reaction was not appropriate to the situation. There was no need for my elevated breathing, anxiety, and willingness to argue this to the ends of the earth. No one should be made to pay $25 for something they didn’t do, but I hadn’t even given the organization a chance to right the wrong. That I corralled a former coworker in the fray was not good either. After calming down and asking her how she was doing, I learned that she didn’t even work at that particular branch anymore.
This over the top reaction gave me a temperature of my own inner atmosphere. I am subject to flights of irrationality at times especially when my sense of right and wrong are threatened. I immediately gear up for a fight expecting that “there will be blood.” This is not good. I am generally even-tempered and calm. At times, though, I do overreact at least internally to misunderstandings like this. I’m going to do better. Recognizing this as an area of growth is key. Awareness is good.