How did I react?

by Cheryl Fonseca

I was feeling pretty good about my self observation practice lately. I felt like I had made some big strides.

Today for lunch I left work to get a bowl of won ton soup that I savor. I came back to the building, sat at my desk and worked in between won tons. Then I heard a voice call out "I smell something stinky! Who’s got the hot food?" (I have heard this person harassing others for eating hot food at their desks and have had empathy for them.) I usually wait to bring my food up until after that person has left for lunch - to avoid this situation. It’s a rule that she has come up with for everyone in the department, not Company policy.

I said "It’s me, I’m eating won ton soup!" She replied "Could you eat in one of the conference rooms!" I immediately said under my breath "If you don’t like it, then you leave." Then I pouted all the way to the conference room and grumbled some more to myself, for being mistreated. My won ton soup didn’t taste as good as it usually did. After about 10 minutes, I left my soup and went over to my PC to enter a few commands. She was gone - she had me leave because my soup was bothering her and then left for lunch herself!

The coworker sitting next to me cracked a joke about himself being the token noise maker, and I cracked a joke about myself being the token stinky person. He said "You don’t stink, just your food does." Then I realized that I wasn’t observing and had reacted emotionally over someone being honest with me about something I was doing that was offensive to them. My android couldn’t handle being told that I might possibly be doing something offensive. I now realize that I was not working on myself and had I been during this episode - there would have been no episode at all.