Revising the Text

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The other day I walked out to my mailbox. There was an official letter from the City of Los Angeles parking violations bureau. Hmmm. I know what this is about. My daughter has not paid a past due traffic ticket. I’m irritated. I told her about this ticket two months ago.

In my head I begin to compose my text to her: Why didn’t you pay this ticket? It’s now gone up over a hundred and fifty dollars. How can you neglect to take care of this? It’s not responsible. What’s with the self-inflicted financial damage?

I am really working up a head of steam.

Then the thought occurs to me that recently I had not made a Medi-care payment on time and within the lapsed period a visit to the clinic, because Medicare was refusing to approve it, was now costing me several hundred dollars.

Whoa. I was guilty of the exact same thing as my daughter.

I begin to revise my message: Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we inflict unnecessary damage?

Including myself in the equation, I could still be indignant without being hypocritical.

But then, wait a minute, I remember that she didn’t call me back last night after I left a voice mail message. Maybe she’s irritated that I’m giving her too much advice about her new job. I better be very cool when I text her about the parking ticket.

I text: “Uh-oh! U forgot to pay parking ticket.”

I wait. Silence.

Now what’s going on? She usually texts me right away and it’s been hours. Now I am convinced I really did say something in our last conversation that made her mad.

What could it have been?

I must have been too pushy insisting that she say “yes” to that job offer when she had other job options that were more in keeping with her graduate degree and yet not at all as exciting as the one I wanted her to take. So maybe she’s upset about that. And while trying to talk her into what I wanted her to do I said that stupid thing about maybe she would meet her soul mate on this job. Why did I say that? Totally disregarding that she has a boyfriend (not The One in my opinion) but why would I use that misleading and awful “soul mate” word on her? I will text her again and if she doesn’t text back she really is mad.

I text: “Did you get my message about ticket?”

Silence.

Oh, no. Now I’m going to ask her point blank: are u mad at me? But then that’s too dramatic and self-pitying. Maybe I should text: Did I say something that upset you? But “upset” is a strong word too. Lighten up.

What about the word, “annoy”? “Annoy” is a hip word and not so dramatic. A minor irritation. And it lessons my culpability. I didn’t do anything so bad that would deserve the mad word. Just annoying. I can handle annoying.

I text: “Are you annoyed with me?”

A few hours later I receive her text: “No!!!! My phone died last night.”

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–Trudy Hale, Editor

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