Purgatory, by Jean Sorensen:
-Sitting after the light turned green because the guy in front of me is on his phone and can’t hear me honk.
-Arriving an hour early to a local summer concert to find the front row already staked out with empty folding chairs by owners who will return from Starbucks five minutes before the first note.
-Trying to find a fitting room that isn’t cluttered with clothes women didn’t bother to hang up, let alone bring outside.
-Idling behind the wheel in a parking lot while a parade of clods stroll in front of me without a care in the world.
-Standing behind someone at the post office self-serve as they try to figure out how to insure a package heading to Kyrgyzstan.
Thoughtless people drive me nuts. Prayer, counting, meditation, and positive imagery (including thoughts of revenge) haven’t done much to ease my pain. However, last week my oldest son inadvertently helped me overcome, and even enjoy, moments of head-explosive frustration: he told me that my new cell phone has a memory card for photos. And so began my Pet Peeve Pic therapy.
Now, whenever I encounter an annoying situation, I take a photo with my cell. Last week I was at the movies and took a picture of a woman’s stocking feet propped up on the seat in front of her. With a click my frustration melted away! When the same woman lit up her e-book to read during the previews, click! and all’s right in the world. There was a learning curve: I accidentally removed those photos when I tried showing them to my son. Apparently there’s a difference between “expand” and “delete.”
My therapy is working so well, just the sound of the photo being taken relieves my stress (which would make it Pavlov’s Pet Peeve Pic therapy). It’s not a perfect system. My friend, Linda, and I were midway through a meal at a nice restaurant the other night when a father and his two young sons took the booth behind us. The boys made such a racket, the two of us couldn’t hear each other complaining about it. Luckily we are well-versed in exaggerated looks and eye-rolling. In that situation, a photo couldn’t truly capture the cause of my aggravation, although perhaps my next cell will include audio.
For the most part, the therapy has been nothing short of miraculous. My latest work includes a woman’s shopping cart packed with grocery bags that she filled using SELF-CHECKOUT. Another was taken at a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Reston Town Center. The tables were so close, my husband was farther from me than the stranger next to me, who wasn’t much of a stranger by the time my entree arrived (turns out she was a lefty who bruises easily).
With the help of son and cell, I’ve reduced my stress—a New Year’s resolution I can already cross off my list. Tomorrow I’m going to ask him if there’s something in my phone that will help me lose weight.
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