As I was leaving the highway to go home, movement near a shiny black car caught my attention. The gentleman exiting the Forerunner had a cardboard sign in his hand. I said to my husband, "He must be getting ready to put a for sale sign on his car."
My husband said, "Ah uh," shaking his head. Before he could explain, a voice from a car to my right exploded and shot through my windshield and out the other said, at the man with the sign. Then I realized what was happening.
The young woman to my right was very angry. I could not catch the exchange of words between this young African American woman and the "homeless" caucasian man with his need-money-for -food sign that was stepping away from his spit shined brand new black Toyota Forerunner.
We had to cross a small intersection and then we were stopped by another light. The African American woman pulled up next to us. She was on the telephone. I wasn't eaves dropping because she was talking so loudly, that she drowned out my radio and my conversation with my husband. So, we listened to her conversation.
"I am so tired of this sh#^", she shouted into her phone. Here it is I feel guilty because these people are asking for money, for a dollar, and he steps his a@@ out of a brand new car. Every Sunday I see this. It doesn't make any f-ing sense..." She continued. "It is Sunday and I am supposed to be going to church and here I am cussing folks out." By the way, at the first light at which were stopped, she held up traffic, stopped her car and did cuss that man out. I was witness to that so she wasn't lying to the unknown person on the other end of her cell phone connection.
Then she put her friend on hold, by pulling away from the speaker, and looked at my husband and I and said, "Can you believe he is out here begging and he's stepping out of a car that looks way better than mine? That doesn't make any sense."
My husband had said seconds before she spoke to us,"See that's why I don't give people money. I give my money to people directly, who I believe need it."
I looked at her and said, "It is not worth it to get your blood pressure up because of that man. Stop cussin' and go on to church like you said you were going to do." She just smiled and continued her tirade with the other person on the other side of the telephone conversation. The light turned green and we went our separate ways: the beggar, the young woman and my husband and I. The only thing that was stationary was the shiny black Forerunner that stood at attention, like a silent gleaming beacon that wanted to tell the world that it was forced to carry around a beggar in a brand new car.
I thought what that man was doing was foul. But I have no control over him or over any person. When we start saying what people should be doing, those are setting expectations. Having expectations of other people will disappoint you every time.
Sure, you want to give folks the benefit of the doubt, but when you start expecting them to say certain things and act a certain way, then you are projecting what you feel and what you believe onto someone else. In this lady's case, she was setting an expectation, and was angered that this stranger, a stranger, did not meet her expectations. He should have been honest and in real need as opposed to begging when he was driving around in a shiny new ride.
You have no control over other people or what they do. You do have control over yourself. It does no good to you to get angry when someone does not live up to what you expect. Recognize those are YOUR expectations, not theirs. Live your life. Don't waste your precious, priceless time being angered by what someone else is doing, especially if YOU cannot change it.
What you can change is yourself. Who you can set expectations for is YOU. When you know this, you know yourself. Knowing who you are is a wonderful beauty elixer. It stops wrinkles before they start, it stops ulcers before they bleed and it stops strokes before they can strike.
Of course, this is not for sure. The one thing that is for sure is that you and only you can set expectations for yourself, and meet those expectations. Focus on what you can change and what you can support. That would be yourself. When you focus on yourself, and provide the care and nurturing you need, you strengthen yourself to help carry the load of the community. Leverage your effort and your focus where it matters: on that which you can control. When you do, you will certainly see a shift in your world. Bit by bit you can make a difference, and do so beautifully.