I stopped at my dry cleaner the other day to pick up some cleaning and to drop off a bright fuchsia silk shirt. It has about a dozen ruffles up the front, which is enough for me to pay the extra for dry cleaning, but the fact that the tag says, "professionally dry clean only" makes it a bit of a necessity.
That said, I'm always looking to save a couple bucks, so I decided to ask what would happen if I washed my little pink number in water. I have a ton of stuff from this same store which says, "Hand wash or dry clean", so I thought I'd just check and see if I could sneak this shirt into the same category. (Also - if you recall, I replaced my washer last year with a snazzy new guy, which is my new best friend...it has a "Soak" cycle and a "Hand Wash" cycle for this very reason...so I didn't want to miss an opportunity to use it!)
So I uttered my off-the-cuff, seemingly non-offensive question to the owner of the shop who was helping me, and boy, did I get a response! She raised her voice a few notches, clearly annoyed and somehow offended, and said gruffly, "You want to wash this? Okay - you wash this, the color will bleed. You will have an ugly, light pink shirt that you'll want to throw away. So you choose - either dry clean or throw it away."
Wow. Not the "Oh, I wouldn't try to wash silk. It will practically ruin your shirt" response I was expecting.
Clearly, I put her on the defensive, even though I had no intention of doing so. Maybe I was the 15th customer that day to ask if a garment could be washed instead of dry cleaned, maybe she was sick and tired of people trying to get out of using her services, or maybe she was just having a crummy day. Any way you look at it, I hit a nerve. I didn't mean to, but I did.
And that's what people used to do to me all the time.
I realize now, when people would tell me to slow down or take it easy, they weren't trying to be patronizing - they were just trying to help.
And when people would offer their help - they weren't trying to insert themselves where they didn't belong - they were just trying ease my burden.
And when people would simply ask how I was feeling - they weren't trying to be nosey. They were merely trying to express their concern.
It wasn't out of pity that they asked, it was because they cared.
I hope I can remember that as I continue on my way to living well, accepting help, encouragement, and advice along the way. I just hope my dry cleaner knows how much I appreciated her advice. I should mention it to her the next time I'm in, don't you think?