How to Escape Negativity

A lunch with an old colleague reminds her of the power of a negative attitude and the importance of limiting that influence.

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I was asked recently to have lunch with a previous colleague. I was, at first, glad to hear from her. I wanted to catch up, see what she has been up to, and share with her what I have been doing lately as well. When I walked into the restaurant where we said we would meet, I could see her sitting across the room near the window, phone stuck to her ear. She seemed to be engrossed in a heated conversation. I walked quickly to the table and plopped down in the seat in front of her with this huge smile on my face. She (I’ll call her Jenny — not her real name) put her hand up without looking at me to let me know the conversation she was having was much more important than seeing me right now. I had a flashback of our days in the office together and the flashbacks were not encouraging. I suddenly realized I had made a mistake by meeting up with her, but I couldn’t leave now. When the waitress approached our table, I ordered a ginger ale. Jenny placed her phone down for a moment and asked the waitress to come back. I cancelled my ginger ale. I was taking medication for a nasty cough and was not supposed to mix the meds with alcohol, but I had feeling I would need a good high.

 

After at least 10 more minutes on the phone, she ended her passionate conversation and sighed heavily. “Oh, I cannot believe my boyfriend, he can be such an idiot!” she said. “I am really going to need a drink.” She sighed heavily again and applied lip gloss. I cleared my throat and said, “Well, hello Jen, how have you been?” She then leaned over the table and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. “Oh honey, don’t ask, really, really tired, very busy,” she said. “I hate my job, I hate my man, and I hate my freaking apartment. The landlord is an a—hole.” She proceeded to tell me for the next 15 minutes why she thought so. When the waitress came back to our table, Jenny ordered a glass of wine, and I ordered the same. “So how have you been?” Jenny finally got around to asking me. I tried to catch her up on what I have been up to, but her phone kept going off. Every time it did, she picked it up. She kept the conversations brief, but with each phone call, her mood seemed to just go south. After the fourth call she received, I said, “Jenny, you invited me here because you wanted to catch up, so let’s do that.”  Jenny said, rolling her eyes,“Sorry, I forgot how sensitive you were.” Oookay. I asked about her job, she told me she hated it and told me why. I asked about her sister, and she said she was a pain in the ass. I even asked about her cat, who I knew she loved, hoping to turn the conversation around and perhaps add a little laughter. She told me the cat was getting old, pissing all over the house and she wanted to throw her out the window.

I finally said, “Jen, you’re a little negative tonight. Why don’t we find something positive to talk about? Life is very short; we shouldn’t spend so much of our time elevating the negatives. Think of all you have and just be grateful.” I will never forget her response: “Oh my gosh, you are so killing my bitch buzz right now.” It was not the evening I was hoping for. I only ordered an appetizer and told Jenny that I needed to leave because of a headache, which was true. I did not say I would keep in touch or “let’s do this again” because that would have been a lie, and I did not want to get together with her again.

After leaving the restaurant and heading home, I started thinking about things that were going to aggravate me when I got home. My husband probably left a sink full of dishes instead of putting them in the dishwasher. He probably didn’t walk the dog, and I would have to do it. I needed to call my mom about something and really didn’t feel like it at that moment. Wait a minute. What just happened? Did Jenny’s negativity rub off on me? Did I catch the Bitch Buzz?

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