Tapping the Maple Tree

Lately, I’ve been tapping my anger like one taps a maple tree. I jab a spike in my right leg and let it drip sap into a bucket. Most of the time I keep the anger inside, contained. But slowly, I’ve been draining it, letting go of my fear of using it.

Does this hurt the tree? Because it hurts my leg.

We went to a restaurant a few weeks ago for lunch. It took forever to find a parking space. And when my daughter is hungry, that feels like forever and a day. The restaurant was half full; it was 2 p.m. The hostess came to take our drink order and they were out of fresh squeezed lemonade, their specialty. On a Saturday?

We ordered water and an ice tea. But the hostess never came back with the drinks. She walked by us a dozen times – we had transformed into customer ghosts. Then the waitress helped everyone except us. So, we got up and left. No one cared.

Not getting service made me feel bad because I take it personally. My wife says I shouldn’t because it has nothing to do with me – it was a poorly run restaurant. But I tell her the world revolves around me. It always has something to do with me. Was there something wrong with me? Look, I know there’s something wrong with me, but does it really show in the 10 minutes I’ve been in your restaurant? Are you clairvoyant? Did you read my mind and not like what you saw? I don’t like it either, but you don’t have ESP. If you did, you would have seen I’m a great tipper. So there, Amazing Kreskin.

Then I remembered rule #1 in the Book of the Unknown: Never leave the house without the paper bag on your head – you’ll only frighten people if you do.

So, I wrote the restaurant. I’ve written many emails to companies expressing my happiness or displeasure. I had never used the “F” word in one before. Never. Time to tap the anger tree. Bang. I showed it to my wife: “Are you really going to send it?” Bang, I pressed “send.” Then I thought, “What did I just do?” and panicked, a little. But something about it felt good, like they deserved it. The staff at the restaurant was incompetent and lethargic. They ruined our lunch and made us feel bad. The crappy restaurant needed a wake-up call, something with punch – an email capturing the emotion of how we felt. I did my best to communicate it. I never heard back.

We ate lunch at Jamba Juice next to the blenders. I offered my daughter 10 bucks to walk into the evil restaurant and throw her Mango-a-go-go on the floor. “Then, run like the wind. We’ll have the car ready.” Simple plan. She declined. At least she laughed and saw the humor in it. That’s my girl.

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