Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Perspective

This week I dealt with irate burrocrats and angry landowners and a lot of pressure.  I was struggling with my gig, trying to figure out how best to make the pieces work together.  

It was not going well.

But it occurred to me, while I was steeling myself to call the angry landowner: I learn the most, and have my best epiphanies, when I change my perspective on things.  

That is all it takes.  Looking at things differently.  And suddenly it doesn't seem so bad. In fact, I find that I kinda like the work.  

Lemme give an example.

A couple of years ago, I was in Little Rock for some training for my job.

One of my best friends, Cherilyn Plaxco, was out of town this week, and left me her parking pass.  Great.  Little Rock has a local company in charge of managing parking.  They are called Best Park, and they have a number of lots around the federal building.  I called her after I got the pass, trying to figure out which lot to park in. 
"Did you get the map?"

Hm.  No.  I saw the note that said "For Crorey", and pulled the pass out of it, and threw the note away.

"Oh, that had the map on it.  No matter, you can park at any of the angled spaces."

Great.  So I parked at an angled space.
 
When I came back at the end of the day, I was met at my truck by an old, toothless, dirty, grumpy old codger, saying I couldn't leave without paying the fine. "These numbered spaces are assigned.  This is a monthly lot."

I pointed to the parking permit.  "I was told that that gave me access to any of the angled spots."

"No."

The anger, it starts to burn.

Prior to my arrival, Mr. Snagglepuss had placed an 'Arkansan boot' on my car.  Orange plastic traffic barrel with a chain and lock hooked up to my exhaust system.  Crude, but effective.  Then he had leaned against my car and waited for me to try and leave.
He had even waited beyond his his work day to collect $40.  But I was in an argumentative mood.  Back and forth, me getting madder and madder.  Finally, I asked him, in perfect exasperation, "What does that parking permit allow me to do, then?"

He finally looked at the piece of plastic I held.  "Oh," he said, "That is for Lot 138."

"I see the 138 on the tag. 
But where does it say that in the lot?  There is no sign telling me which lot it is!"

"Oh, we're not required to post signage saying which lot it is."

THEN HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHICH LOT I CAN PARK IN?!?!?

I was mad.  I was perturbed, filled with righteous indignation, and ready to fight.  This man had unjustly targeted me for abuse, just because I was an out-of-towner.  He was taking advantage, and I was pissed off..

And then somehow, it changed.  My perspective shifted, and my brain saw the whole episode in a new light. I had just gone from being in the middle of a horrible event that was ticking me off in the worst way, to being in the middle of a forty dollar story.  Of the two, I'd rather have a forty-dollar story.  Change in perspective.  Change of narrative. Epiphany.

And just like that, I paid him my forty bucks, and I was happy about it.  As he was removing the boot, I told him I wanted a picture.  Asked him to pose with the barrel.  Be sure and smile - I want this for posterity!

He did.
 

Best forty dollar fine I ever paid. 

Perspective.

In art, perspective has to do with objects and their position relative to one another when viewed from a particular point.  My thing is, I have to change that point of view - change my perspective - so that I keep my temper.

So my challenge now is, how do I look at the angry landowner (who, with his shirt buttons from the two different shirts eschewing their own respective buttonholes for a chance at matching up with a hole in the other shirt, reminded me in an odd way of Mr. Snagglepuss) - how do I change my perspective on him?  

How do I look at the adamantine burrocrat and see the story, instead of just seeing red?

When it happens, the change in perspective is magical.  

I just need to be able to flip that switch before I find my buttons pushed.

That is the magic trick.  

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