A Matter of Attitude

When I worked at a Target store for three years before retiring at sixty-two to write full-time, I was impressed by the different attitudes my co-workers displayed. Most of them were acceptably pleasant to the guests (at Target, customers are “guests”). Some were genuinely helpful. Others did what they had to do and no more. Rarely did I see anyone treat a guest unpleasantly.

In short, we had what I’d consider a pretty typical mix of people.

Early in my stint at Target I realized what a difference attitude made. Sure, I could come in each day feeling resentful that–after being downsized from my third professional career after almost nineteen years–I was working on the register to help make ends meet at home. But at least I had a job. And I was earning enough.

And since it was only part-time, I had time to write my first novel. Something I hadn’t expected to be able to do until I retired. Furthermore, I only had to drive a mile to get to work.

So (with a lot of help from the Lord) I managed to display a good attitude most of the time. When other team members complained about this, that, or the other, I listened sympathetically and TRIED not to join in. I’d learned far too late in my previous career that one of my supervisors, who I believed to have been a sympathetic person to complain to about personal problems, was sick and tired of my grousing.

If someone sympathetic couldn’t take my complaining any more, I needed to change. As much as I had to be grateful for, why waste time on serious griping that (apparently) nobody really wanted to listen to?

So I made a practice of looking for the good each day when I got to work. I’m not pretending it was always easy, nor am I claiming I wasn’t far happier getting home  than arriving at work. But my life was full of good things if I just made the effort to look at it that way.

I retired from Target seven years ago, but I still like to think of myself as grateful for the good things in my life. And to think that focusing on the good makes me a nicer person to be around.

So what if I have to take medicines for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid  problems? At least I’m alive and in what I consider good health. I can get up with a fair amount of enthusiasm most mornings. I can still walk as rapidly as ever. In fact, in many ways my body is functioning just as well as ever.

Can you imagine what I’d be like if I did nothing but complain, though? I don’t want to think about it. I like being nice to other people, and I believe that results largely from the attitude of gratitude I’ve learned to cultivate over the years.

Prayer is said to contain four elements: Adoration; telling God how good He is. Confession; admitting our sins and asking God’s forgiveness. Supplication; praying for needs, ours and other peoples’. And thanks for all the good God provides on a daily basis.

I’ll bet you can guess which is my favorite element of prayer.

Are you a thankful person, even when things aren’t going the way you want? That’s tough. But if you look at the good in your life, it’ll really help to put the bad in perspective. And while you’re at it, why don’t you thank God for the good? As the Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.”

Any thoughts on thanksgiving and gratitude? Please share in a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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A CraigsList Miracle

Okay. Maybe this tale doesn’t exactly fit into the miracle category. Not like when I survived acute viral encephalitis in the eighth grade without any ill effects after several days in a coma.

But it’s still pretty remarkable…

Some years ago I bought a “real” bass guitar. A Fender Precision, for readers who want precision about the details of the story. I loved it and thought I’d want to keep it forever.

Although I’d been a guitar player since I was a junior in high school, I started fooling around with bass probably around 1970.

I went through a series of cheap basses, but I only used them for home recording, and the ones I’d used were adequate. Sometimes I also played bass in church, and when I had the money to get the Fender, I did. Presumably the last bass I’d ever want or need.

About a year ago–I’m sure of the time because I was practicing the bass part for the Christmas musical and having to tote my heavy Fender back and forth between home and church–I decided it was time to buy a second bass. I settled on an Epiphone Viola, which was appreciably lighter than the Fender. I liked the sound so much I decided to use it at church and keep the Fender at home for practice.

What I didn’t pay that much attention to is the fact that the Fender is what’s called a “long-scale” bass and the Epiphone is a “short-scale.” That has to do with neck length, and that–of course–affects the width of the frets.

But this year the heaviness of the Fender–I’d developed muscle pains in my chest wall–and having to make mental adjustments in playing when switching between the two basses had really gotten to me in practicing for the Christmas musical. So I decided to sell the Fender and get another Epiphone.

I already knew that music stores don’t begin to pay as much for a used instrument as the owner thinks it’s worth, but Guitar Center would pay only $190 in order to sell it for $315. Hmm. Did I mention that the Epiphone I wanted was $350?

The family budget wasn’t set up to handle the difference, so I decided to try CraigsList. Since the guy who’d helped me at Guitar Center thought I could probably get $350 for it, that’s what I listed it for, although I would’ve been willing to compromise.

Within a day I had a serious nibble from someone who asked if I wanted cash only or whether I would consider a swap. I replied cash…unless he happened to have an Epiphone Viola bass to swap.

And would you believe he did? And he wanted the Fender because he was having problems going from a short-scale bass to a long-scale–the exact reverse of my problem.

He sent me pictures of his bass, and it appears to be in good condition. We’re supposed to be meeting this morning (the day I’m writing this, not the day it’ll be posted) to check out one another’s basses in person.

I’m trying not to get my hopes all the way up, but it’s not easy. After all, what are the chances two people would even potentially be able to make such a perfect swap? As far as I’m concerned, God had a lot to do with this happening. He knew what I needed before I even thought to ask Him for it. Thank You, Lord.

Have any stories about purchases or swaps you’ve made? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger