I recently found myself in the parking lot of a diner with steam rolling from my ears and my fuse burning dangerously close to the powder keg labeled “boundaries”.
After a few hundred miles of travel and meeting some amazing folks in Virginia, I stopped for a bite to eat. I drove past the typical haunts of arches, kings, and red birds to find a ‘family’ diner. It looked nostalgic and inviting – clean and enough cars in the parking lot to allow me to think it would be a great place to nourish my body and rest my mind.
Julie greeted me and offered a beverage, advised that the portions were large and she would be right back.
I asked for details about the grilled chicken salad and she assured me it was crafted with plain grilled chicken and lots of mixed greens – perfect. She soon returned with a family sized bowl piled high, the grilled chicken carefully perched on top.
I saw a few dark greens and cucumbers around the edge as I began to survey the feast. The dressing was served in a ‘cup of soup’ size bowl and a serrated knife to make quick bite size pieces. As Julie departed again, I requested a box for the remains, which no doubt would be great.
And then – there it was – the iceberg – just like what I imagine sunk the titanic.
Now the search began – one piece of spinach, two scraggly leaves of what I thought were curly red. I found evidence of what I appeared to be a green bell pepper but chopped so tiny, I couldn’t be sure.
I picked and sifted as I felt my lower lip droop into the pouched pout position. I tried the chicken, not terrible but not what my taste buds had hoped for.
I waited a few minutes, certainly Julie would return soon to make sure everything was to my liking, or at least bring the box.
I observed her at the counter talking, talking, talking…they must have been discussing the papal visit or plotting world peace. I made eye contact and she could clearly see that I was not chowing down on the ‘delicious’ grilled iceberg.
Two bites and forty minutes was enough, I was done.
I made my way to the checkout counter where I was certain they would offer me a box to drag home the leftovers and make me a less disgruntled customer.
Julie broke from her summit long enough to hand me the check and asked if I still wanted the box. Without hesitation, I accept the check and said ‘no thank you – the salad was not good enough to bother’. I found money in my wallet to pay the check, hoping that I would escape with the cost of only the drink.
The cashier asked me if everything was okay and I again proclaimed that the food was not okay and the service was no better.
Without thought, I handed her the $20 and she quickly returned $4.85. I heard, have a nice day (sucker) and out the door I went.
As I opened the car door, my digestive track reminded me that I was still hungry and the anger began. I just paid for a meal that I could not eat, even after I told two employees I was not pleased. It was not what I carefully selected from the extensive menu and the service was unacceptable. I was mentally asking, “what just happened” as I realized that I also tipped Julie $3.
Poof – my fuse was lit.
I felt cheated, duped, stupid and still hungry. How dare they treat me like that? What a terrible place, what awful people; I was NEVER stopping there again.
I went right to Facebook and posted a one star rating – only because zero was not an option. Man was I really jacked. As I began to forage through the car for something to eat I felt my face and neck changing to beet red and my temples were throbbing.
Are you kidding me, it was a damn salad for God’s sake – let it freaking go.
Why was I so angry about $18.15, and iceberg lettuce?
I have wasted more money than that on “As Seen On TV” gadgets and I certainly have eaten plenty of iceberg lettuce before.
And there it was, at the bottom of breath 27 – boundaries.
The boundary bitch was back. I just unconsciously allowed myself to be ‘violated’. Even when I clearly stated, twice, that I was not pleased, I assumed it would be resolved with an apology and at least $15 change.
I was too red and steamy to go back into the diner so I buckled up and began to gnaw on the stale pistachios I found in the glove box.
For many miles my white knuckled breaths were shallow, as the scene replayed in my head. Why didn’t I stand my ground? Why didn’t I go back into the diner and let Julie know that her service was unacceptable?
More miles later than I care to admit, I loosened my grip and deepened my breath.
Still frustrated but not with Julie or iceberg lettuce, I released the event. At the next turn as the GPS lady says exit right in two miles, I had this monolog rolling through my head….
“A $199 value for just $18.15, order in the next fifteen minutes and we will double your order. That’s right, two life lessons delivered to your door for just $18.15 (plus shipping and handling).”
Lesson one: Be present – I was on autopilot as I left the tip and assumed that the cashier would certainly ‘make things right’ by not charging me for the inedible grilled iceberg. Allow others to be accountable for their actions and honor your boundaries, no matter how red you are.
Lesson two: An angry digestive tract and stale pistachios will delay your estimated time of arrival.
So, for just $18.15 and self-guided tour of two highway restrooms, I was reminded of how important boundaries are. What a value!
Do you have a ‘grilled iceberg’ in your life? How much of your life is operated by auto-pilot?
Are you ready to explore being present in your day?
Join us for a weekend of self-healing and spiritual growth on October 24th and 25th in Bellefonte, PA.
Blessings for all the very best,