I’ve always been quite the negotiator. Instead of kisses and ‘good nights,’ I was the type of child who would always attempt to wrangle an extra hours of awakeness before bedtime from my parents. Or an extra maraschino cherry in my Shirley Temple from the waitress at the West End Manor when my family dined out. My parents set a dollar limit on my elaborately cataloged Christmas list, but I’d always hopefully include some ‘optional’ [additional] items. In school, I was the student who would question if ‘a’ wasn’t an equally valid choice as ‘b’ on my corrected multiple choice exam, to snag a few extra points. People thought I’d grow up to be a lawyer rather than just a woman who calls up to fight the mysterious charges on her Verizon phone bill.
I’m not sure what my bargaining powers have really gotten me in life. Less sleep, more sweets, and more toys—yes. Extra bargaining chips...of various kinds
But the small successes I’ve enjoyed in negotiations over my lifetime have fostered some rather unproductive thinking habits.
I often find myself having dialogues such as this in my head:
Me: Look, God. I’ve vacuumed everything in the house and I haven’t said anything nasty about my stepmother for over a week. So, how about that agent responding to my query?
Me: I haven’t bought any unnecessary clothing for months! I’ve also been working hard, rather than surfing online for vacation packages I can’t afford. That’s at least worth an extra minute or two off my best time for running a mile, right? Or slightly more defined abs?
God: That’s not how the world is designed to function…
Me: But I’ve been running every day! It’s so unfair that some people work out less than me but look fitter. Why did you give me this writing talent and then make twenty-six years olds who get pink books published about how they can’t stop shopping?
God: Look, I’m omnipotent so I know you’ve been to Harvard Divinity School. Did they teach you nothing there? Life isn’t fair!
Me: Okay, how ‘bout if I clean out the microwave too? I’m really trying hard to be a responsible grown-up, and it’s not like the things that I want are bad for me. It’s not like I’m asking for tequila.
God: I think I need to work on that whole ‘peace in the Middle East’ thing for a bit.
Me: Look at this nice shiny apple I’m polishing…oops, sore subject. Sorry God!
|Flickr: Whiteboard Dave|
I guess life isn’t a series of bargaining chips that can be parceled out in some grand negotiation with the universe. Which is why, I suppose, I went through a phase of eating lots of sour cream and onion potato chips with creamy dip as a kid, reading escapist Victorian mysteries in my closet, where it was safe. In old books, things always worked out well, and the guilty were punished and the innocent were set free. And there were horses for everyone.
Come to think of it, though, I'm not sure I would fare so well in a world where everyone got--not what they wanted or even needed--but what they deserved. I suppose all we can do is pray--for grace, and strive to to be more gracious.