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You’re right. I’m sorry. Is there anything else? 1

Dear Bradshaw,

While I was riding the metro to work this morning, leaning with one shoulder against the door and the other against a metal bar, some guy rose from his seat and then stepped past me as he positioned himself before the exit. He was seething with rage. I could see the blood boiling behind his eyes as he glared at me. As the train was pulling into the next stop, the man turned to me, and said, “These bars are for HOLDING ON TO, so that people can stabilize themselves!”

He was my height, perhaps a few years older than me, and though his arms had some mass, the muscles weren’t defined. It would have been a good fight.

I closed the book I’d been reading. “Are you kidding me?”

“No, I’m not!” he roared, red in the face. “You’re not supposed to lean against the bars!”

The brakes were screeching as I said, “It’s eight o’clock in the morning, my friend. Relax. We’ve both got a long day ahead of us.”

It was hot, very humid, and I was tired and irritable. So when the train stopped and the doors slid open, I was ready for anything. But the man marched away, staring straight ahead and gritting his teeth.

After the doors had closed and the train raced on, I felt disappointed with myself. Why should I let that guy infect me with his irritable mood? To think I had been ready to fight over his stupid pet peeve: people leaning against the bars on the metro. Meanwhile, I have pet peeves of my own, including people who cough or sneeze in public places without covering their mouths.

Truth be told, I’d like to be like the Buddha. I want to stay centered, always, in any situation. One of my favorites Buddha stories is about when he was walking through a village and a man shouted at him, “You have no right teaching others! You’re as stupid as everyone else! You’re a fake!”

Buddha responded, “If you buy someone a gift and that person doesn’t accept it, to whom does the gift belong?”

“It would belong to me,” the man answered, confused by the strange question. “After all, I bought it.”

“Exactly,” Buddha said, “and it is the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger returns to you. So you are the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. In this way, you hurt only yourself. If you want to avoid hurting yourself, get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you become unhappy. When you love others, everyone is happy.”

How’s that for wisdom, eh, Shaw? Which reminds me of something my friend Cherie the Great once told me. According to her, the three hardest things to say are 1) You’re right, 2) I’m sorry, and 3) Is there anything else? You know what? That’s what I’m going to say the next time someone yells at me for leaning against the bars on the metro. That should do it, I think, and if it doesn’t, well, it’ll be a good fight.

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  1. Brent says:

    Or maybe just follow the rules and not lean on the bars.

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