After over 30 years with my husband, I feel like I can predict his every mood in every situation. Happy, relaxed and cooperative, he rarely becomes unhinged.
In fact, when we were dating I once thought I forgot to turn off the stove. After getting about ten miles from my house I asked him if he wouldn’t mind to go back so I could check on it. He happily agreed. When I got to the house I realized I was mistaken and therefore wasted our time. John remained jovial about the whole thing.
I was not used to such an agreeable attitude. After all, I was raised by a slightly hot-headed Italian man who would have reenacted a dramatic scene from “The Godfather” all the way back to the house. The fact that John remained calm and unbothered is one reason I fell in love with him.
The Good The Bad…
However all this praise on John does not mean he is always cool, calm and collected. Although it does not happen often I have seen him throw a temper tantrum or two. He is human, after all.
He lost it once at the Department of Motor Vehicles and once at Dollywood. His temper has gotten the best of him a few times when he was working on repairs around the house and a couple of times while he was fixing the car. Most recently he had words with a rental car company. There have been one or two more times, but I guess spread out over 30 years John has a pretty low average as temper tantrums go. Maybe part of the reason he does not succumb to them too often is because they have never yielded any positive results.
This weekend we were about ten miles out in the country at a barn wedding when John locked the keys inside our car. I fully expected that this unfortunate incident was going to be added to the short list of times he lost his cool.
Instead, he kept a good sense of humor and was cracking jokes about how we were stranded. I was enjoying his jokes but in the back of my mind I was getting concerned. How were we going to get home?
As the time drew close to leave, John got more serious about breaking into our car. At one point he had three or four other men helping him. Despite their best effort, none were successful.
Surely, John was going to get grumpy, I thought to myself. I think I hated the thought of him becoming unhinged more than the fact that we were stranded ten miles from home.
At one point the DJ at the wedding said he had a slim jim at his house and he would be happy to get it for us when the wedding was over. For those that don’t know what a slim jim is, it is a skinny metal tool that resembles a ruler. It has notches on one end that when slid down between the glass window and the metal door, it latches onto the internal workings of the door lock and unlock the car.
After trying a little while longer I saw John talking to the DJ and before I knew what was happening, the DJ gave John the keys to his car and directions to his house where he gave permission for John to get the slim jim from his garage. What an amazing generous offer and what a testament to the virtues of living in a small town.
Once back, John was able to unlock the car. After a short victory lap, we were able to load up and go home, but not before we thanked everyone for trying to help us and thanking the DJ yet again.
As we drove home, John shared with me that he was surprised he was successful with the slim jim because he had never used one.
This is when I said, “That is not what surprised me. What surprised me was…” and before I could finish my sentence, John finished it for me saying, “…that through it all I didn’t get grumpy.” “Exactly!” I proclaimed.
The more I thought about it, the more I believe that what happened that day was the result of one of life’s mysteries. We were blessed to be in the presence of someone nice enough to hand over his car keys with directions to his house so John could retrieve a tool. Living in a small town definitely helped our situation, too. But lets face it, how agreeable would the DJ have been if he saw John throwing a temper tantrum, kicking the car tires and yelling profanities.
Truth is, John staying cool, calm and collected helped create an environment that let the DJ feel comfortable enough to help us in an extraordinary way, allowing us to reap the rewards of his kindness. I have always heard that you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Life is mysterious.
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered.”
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.