Earlier this week my son and I took a quick trip to Houston, TX. Our goal was to renew and secure valid passports prior to leaving for a family vacation, but when all was said and done, we ended up having a surprise adventure before the planned adventure. Apparently, I needed to be reminded about the importance of perspective, and specifically how it can have a huge impact on our emotional state and behavior.
With no traffic issues, we got to the agency at 6:45 AM, and luckily, the nice lady with an orange vest was directing cars to the open spots in the parking lot across the street. She handed us a ticket to put on the dash as we paid $20.00 and inquired about in-and-out privileges, which we had for the day. Things continued to run like clockwork inside the building, where we were told our passports would be ready a few hours later. Yes – the morning started out great.
The glitch surfaced when we returned to our vehicle and found a bright orange boot on one of the tires – and no orange-vested person in sight. Turns out, there was no attendant. At the bottom of the parking lot sign was the warning: “Don’t pay a person. Use the box. No one is on duty.” We had been scammed.
I spoke at great length with the city official who came to remove the boot and collect the accompanying fine. Turns out, I wasn’t the only victim. There were tons of orange boots all over the lot. Apparently, this happened every day – especially in the mornings around dawn when signs are easily overlooked. Though initially upset, as I listened to the man recount experiences with other people, my emotional state softened.
I could have been the person who didn’t have the funds to have the boot removed. Or someone who was told to return to Houston another day to pick up my passport. Or been denied a passport altogether and told to start the process over again. I could have been the city official, who had the sole job of removing boots and dealing with people’s rage. I could have been the person who lived my life scamming people. What a horrible existence that would be.
Instead, as my wise son reminded me, I was the person who could pay the fine, get the passport, and leave the area and the incident behind. The person who could look at the positives so the negatives didn’t become an obsession. The person not taken hostage by anger, giving the scammers more power, and prolonging the pain.
This does not mean we shouldn’t own our anger and frustration, which is often justified. It’s just a reminder that we have the ability to choose the way in which we deal with it. And for me, being intentional about my focus helps me ride through difficulties in a better manner every time.