Darling, the specter of becoming a Karen is omnipresent when living overseas, so many misunderstandings, so much drilling on concrete after midnight by neighbors who want to install new curtain rods, so few good cafés in which one can recuperate (one I visited recently used look the same dough and added raisins to raisin bread, a lemon frosting to make lemon cake and a few pieces of cheese to make cheese twists). May well you wonder how I manage avoid shrieking and flinging tchotchkes.
I was in the flower store a few days ago and bought a few stems. The clerk tried to wrap packing tape around the stems and then attempted to cut the ends. I declare, I practically vaulted over the counter to stop such heresy.
Last week I ordered a salad, pizza and fruit juice for lunch. When I walked down to reception to take the items from the delivery person, I saw that the delivery guy had set the pizza and salad (both of which were in cardboard containers) and then accidentally spilled the juice on top of them. He hadn’t rescued the food, so there was now a small pile of sodden cardboard next to where he was leaning against the wall and playing with his phone. When I walked up, he asked for the payment. When I explained that all three items were now inedible, he shrugged. So I paid him, tossed the soggy containers, then paid the janitor to mop the floor.
The secret of life, of course, is not to be an evil, selfish, back-stabbing troll. Treating people fairly (which includes giving fair wages and tips) means that in addition to having a smooth life, you will have a marvelous complexion. But… what about the guy who cleans my car in the office parking lot? He is paid to clean it every day but actually cleans it once or twice a week. It’s a small amount of money and his life is infinitely harder than mine. I should let it go, I do let it go but… it’s annoying to pay for a service that I don’t get.
Consternation abounding and unending is often dismissed as “first world problem” (or one is reminded of all the people in worse situations). All true. And I call on Shakespeare: “There was never yet a philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently.” When all staff has to sit in their offices until the last minute of official time while the boss’s friend has not been seen since he left for lunch at 11am… very difficult for moi not to seethe and mutter curses.
I esteem all those who get through the day with cheery positivity; I do wish I could join the ranks of those unbothered by petty unfairness. As this is impossible, I go to avoidance. When I brought home a dress from the tailors and realized it was the wrong size, I dropped it back at his store when he wasn’t there. I didn’t want to yell, don’t want my money back (he did the work, just did it badly), the dress can’t be remade and I don’t want it sitting in my house.
So many jokes about the UK stiff upper lip, but most days that is my ideal. Have a cup of tea and don’t make a fuss – don’t complain – don’t make someone’s life harder – don’t whack them with a cricket bat no matter how much they deserve it. And they usually deserve it.