Choosing the path of least resistance

Riverside-Downtown station. Courtesy: Wikimapia
Riverside-Downtown station. Courtesy: Wikimapia

When I awoke at 5 a.m. to catch the morning train to Riverside from Los Angeles, it started off like every sleepy commute to UCR. From mindlessly cobbling together my morning cup of tea to rushing to pack food for the rest of the week or so, all of these tedious actions add to an all-too-common mix of sleepiness and alertness. Not to mention that panic-inducing moment when I see the bus to UCR pulling in just as I step off of the train,  making for a snippy and grumpy morning mood.

Those familiar with public transportation know that it’s always safer to try and catch your connection as soon as possible or else risk having to wait another half hour to an hour for the next one. Though, of course, this logic fails for other commuters who wake up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. Perhaps it was just my bad luck to have encountered such an individual before the day had barely started. It was when I mid-step to being able to find space to step around a woman who was slow in walking up the long series of stairs that the very same woman thought it fine to snidely direct a “’scuse me” with a mixed look of smugness and disgust. She then immediately proceeded to speed walk away as if to both avoid the confrontation and to also dare me into arguing with her so early in the morning.

After that encounter, it was my decision to instead take the elevator and risk missing my bus than to continue taking the steps down behind her once again that makes me pause now. Some may wonder why I didn’t choose to argue back and rationalize that her rebuke was uncalled for. Others would have asked why I didn’t say excuse me before it got to that point. Or argued that I should have pointed out to her that she was holding up the long line behind us by stopping so suddenly. In the end, any of the above choices would have both started and continued the conflict that this woman so wanted to have.

Sure, the woman obviously got to me, and this could be perceived as submissive behavior, but I like to think that being able to quickly choose the path of least resistance over conflict makes an individual the better person. It shows maturity that everyone could have a little bit more of. So the next time someone says something so rude and uncalled for, instead of starting the fight that they expect, think about walking away – it’s usually the case that those instances are not worth quibbling over. It worked for me on my morning commute just as it did for mitigating my roommate conflict not too long ago. It also gave me a newfound resolution to be more introspective and less argumentative when dealing with issues such as these.

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