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One sub sandwich, hold the heartburn

While out of town last weekend, I learned the power of attitude when my son and I went in a Subway for a late supper.

Ahead of me in line was another mother about my age who also was with her son. Evidently the young girl behind the counter wasn't having a good day. Reaching for the bread, she slammed the cabinet door, rolled her eyes and angrily stated the only flavor of bread remaining was wheat.

The mother replied wheat would be fine. But, she didn't say it loudly enough to penetrate the grouch-fog surrounding the Subway employee. "What?!" she asked with more agitation than she uttered the previous statement. Each question that followed seemed more heated than the one before. She may have been asking if the customer wanted onions on her sandwich, but I swear it sounded like poison.

The atmosphere was so tense, that I considered walking out the door. It's not like there wasn't a smorgasbord of other restaurants to choose from.

Then, I witnessed a remarkable transformation. To answer the onion question, the mother/customer inhaled deeply. I thought her answer was going to come out edged with knives as the question had come to her. But instead, she exhaled. She briefly closed her eyes, and inhaled again. Then, wearing a "new armor" of a kind attitude, she turned back and answered the Sub-grouch calmly. Without missing a beat, the mother started up a casual conversation with the teen. She chatted cheerfully, attempting to distract her from her dismal mood. It worked. While the girl continued to complain about her bad day, she did so light-heartedly. Out in the parking lot, I thanked the mother for calmly handling the situation. She confessed that she had to "fight the urge to show some real attitude."

I don't know what started the girl's attitude. Maybe it was a previous customer or a bad test grade at school. But this mother stopped it from spreading any further.

I believe in speaking one's mind. When negative feelings are bottled up, they stew and turn sour.

From experience, I have learned that before speaking my mind, it is best to think it through, and understand how the words will hit their mark. Unfortunately, I sometimes forget this.

But the more mistakes I make, the more the message sticks. While I need to get things off my chest, my real goal is to see positive results. In most cases, all persons involved really have the same goal. They just temporarily forget that fact.

After all, a chicken teriyaki sub is more enjoyable when there's no heartburn.

Web posted on Thursday, May 4, 2006

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