Seventy Talks to Forty

rothman_advice_postOK, I admit it … it’s seventy-one.  What’s one year between friends?

Monday was June 15.  If you are self-employed, it is likely that you know this as the day on which your second installment of estimated taxes is due.  Therefore, Monday afternoon, I found myself standing in line at our local post office waiting to mail my payments to the United States Treasury and the California Franchise Tax Board.   Paying money.  Standing in line.  In a post office known for its not-so-pleasant workers.  Not a formula for happy but at seventy-one, I’m pretty good at distracting myself from potentially annoying situations.  In this case, I was looking for an old Linda Ronstadt song on You Tube on my smartphone.  When I made it to the counter, I handed my two envelopes to the postal worker and said,  Since it’s June 15, you probably know where these are going.  She glanced at the addresses without expression and asked, Are you sure you don’t want a signature on delivery?  Oh, I don’t care if they get it, I said, I just want to be able to prove I sent it.  Still no smile.

About that time, a young man (by my standards) came charging up next to me and interrupted.  Excuse me, he said excitedly.  I was hoping that there was a supervisor available for me to talk to.  I’m having a problem with our mail carrier.  The woman helping me pointed to a man at the end of the counter and said, He should be able to help you.   I hope so, the guy said as he headed down the counter.  He’s missed delivering our mail for two days and I want to get him fired.  The woman helping me shook her head and explained that often substitute postmen are brought in when regulars are on vacation and it takes a couple days to figure out a route.  I looked down the counter at our agitated friend and said, I don’t suppose he’s ever made a mistake.   I was rewarded with a glimmer of a smile.  He looks about forty, I added.  It’s my experience that forty is a man’s most arrogant age.  Hopefully by the time he’s my age, he’ll mellow out.   Now, a big smile.  I like your attitude, she said, handing me my receipts.  Have a great day.  Nice.  It was tempting to say something to the guy as I left but you can’t reason with an agitated forty year old any more than you can argue with a drunk alcoholic.

So, I’ll say it here.  Hey, forty:

1. You are not the center of the universe.
2. Just because it’s important to you doesn’t mean it’s actually important.
3. I’m just guessing here but you’ve probably made mistakes yourself.
4. The person you’re talking to may be having a worse day that you are.
5. Say please.  Say thank you.  Calm down.  Maybe you’ll live long enough to
realize what a horse’s ass you were at forty.

At seventy-one, I can drag a smile from someone determined not to and I can walk by the guy who deserves my tongue-lashing without a word.  And I can can get it off my chest here, where someone might even listen.  And even if no one reads it, I’m still happy.  Happier, in fact, than when I was that arrogant forty year old.

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