Yesterday started off rather nicely, with a little coffee and a bagel shared in the presence of the one I affectionately address as "Wall*e" (like the movie star robot, yes). The sun was bright, the breeze was perfect, and the day was Friday. Things seemed altogether perfect.
I headed to work, and as I was pulling into the parking garage, received on my phone a rather angry email from a resident. This resident had failed to pay a rather large portion of rent, and I was forced by my job description to hold said person accountable. This is an unfortunate part of my job, one that I try to conduct with the utmost sensitivity and care. However, sometimes people still yell at me for their own failures, and it only very terribly slowly gets easier to accept (for certain, it's never personal). So while I was still attempting to self-soothe my feelings of offense, I ended a short elevator ride and walked into the office.
I work at an apartment complex. For the past 7 months, I have also lived there. For the past 7 days, I have been working on shifting my residence to an apartment nearby in order to save money for my impending wedding. I had until Friday night (last night) to be fully out of my apartment, and was working on the shift every night after work. Exhausting, you say? Yes, I say. Although I honestly had been working on this all week, there were still a substantial number of items lopsidedly strewn about the apartment, including a couple of miniscule dog turds uncovered by the recent removal of my bed, which must've been left by a mischievous miniature pooch in a moment of reckless self-expression and had not yet been cleaned up by ... me.
When I entered my office hot on the heels of angry emails directed at yours truly, I found that painters had arrived to paint my apartment and get it ready for the next person to move into. Cleaners, too. My maintenance team was ready to get the turnover finished. My last day was essentially taken from me by some very eager leasing activity. My dignity was left in a steaming pile on the floor, as ridiculously large teams of workmen swarmed my 657 square feet, regardless of my piles of precious and not-so-precious belongings making a very awkward cameo in the middle, edges, and entire expanse of the apartment. (Also, dog turds. But the dogs weren't there, so for all these painters/cleaners/maintenance people knew, it was human turds, namely mine, cause I like to make tiny poops on the floor.)
This is the kind of moment where I don't shine. When it comes to standing up for other people, I am a stunner. A++, Student of the Month, Gold medalist defender of people I love. However, when it's myself that needs defending, especially at the expense of someone else (namely, the lady + cat trying to move into my apartment on Sunday), I suck. It just doesn't happen. So while I probably should've started wailing and waving my arms and yelling at everyone to get out of my apartment until my lease officially ended at midnight that night, I just stood there in shock and fury, tears streaming, senseless expressions being uttered, confused panic wafting over me as I tried to figure out how to handle this disaster plus the several mini-skirmishes awaiting me in my office. (Also I was wondering, "Should I try to pick up the dog turds with everyone watching me? Or hope if I do nothing, they won't notice?")
Somehow, in a daze of humiliation and with the help of my coworkers, I moved a packed dolly full of boxes and random items down into the storage area of my apartment complex. My maintenance guys found seaworthy boxes in the shop and expertly threw my remaining odds and ends into them. Essentially, they finished packing me up. The remaining lamps, kennels, blankets, baskets, boxes and books were moved into the middle of the floor so the painters could throw plastic over them and get their work done. Oven cleaning chemicals started to taint the air pungently.
I could be a real b-word about this if I wanted to. If the same had happened to a regular resident rather than an employee of the company, our office would have to worry about getting sued. I can exercise my right to be a real pill, if I want to. But I don't.
What happened was a result of humanity. Human fallibility, miscommunication, and fear of upsetting people (on my behalf, but also on the behalf of the people responsible for the debacle). These types of things I understand. I am in no high and mighty place to call someone to account for this. I didn't get injured, nothing was lost or broken, I had 4 people helping me move that I wouldn't have had otherwise, and my pride in my own privacy got taken down a notch.
Best of all, I got practice at really feeling justifiable emotions of anger, hurt, and humiliation, and shortly thereafter got to practice real forgiveness. It's not forgiveness unless you're wronged first. And learning what it was like for Jesus on earth is what forgiveness is all about. These moments, as dumb as they may be, are the everyday opportunity to identify and practice what Jesus was all about. Something for which to give thanks.