Who’s Your Don?

I started my new job on the final day of November last year. I knew it would be a challenge transitioning from owning my own yoga studio to working in a warehouse office. Not least of which would be dealing with far different types of people than I had grown accustomed to in my many years as a yoga professional. People are a fascinating phenomena, and I was about to meet some real characters!

I needed the job, and it was clearly the best opportunity to present itself after the closing of our studio. On my first day of work Meaghan gave me an essential oil diffuser and some oils to take with me. I’m extremely sensitive to second-hand smoke from cigarettes and I could pick up the stale cent in the office on my first visit. These essential oils are keeping me employed and have endeared me to at least one co-worker, but this post isn’t about selling you essential oils. It’s about a character that I work with, the first guy I saw when I went to interview was a man that the wonder of karma has blessed me with, Don, a new teacher in my life.

When I arrived at the warehouse to interview and I was seeking the company owner Don gruffly pointed me in the right direction. Gruff is a decent description for Don, the primary culprit of the cigarette smell around the warehouse. I quickly learned to add more essential oils to my diffuser and to rub some under my nose when he returned from his breaks, which he takes within the warehouse versus outside. When he walks back in the odor quickly follows. This lead to a snap judgement, “I don’t like Don, he sucks.” At some point in my 1st week when I was in the warehouse Don came toward me, cigarette between his fingers pointing them at me and barking something along the lines, “You got to make sure that shit don’t happen!” To this day I have no idea what he was saying or attempting to explain; you see I don’t respond super well to being cussed at while someone is pointing a cigarette inches from my face. My amygdala response was to tell the man “If you come at me with a cigarette again it’s going it end up in your throat.” Instead I held my breathe, nodded and walked away. Quick note, I am the only one the warehouse who wears a mask, so at least I had that barrier. Nonetheless this affirmed my initial sentiments regarding Don.

I’ve seen Don go off the handle and toss papers from his desk, slam doors, cuss, growl, pound his desk, and complain belligerently, so at the end of my second week when checking in with the boss and he told me that he wanted me to work with him I thought, “oh no!” The next week when I needed to communicate with Don I chose kindness. I aimed to view him as a human and treat him accordingly. We had a couple positive interactions and I was thankful to push through his gruff exterior shields.

It’s an ebb and flow with Don, however, as I notice my own body tensing when he goes into his moods and rants with spastic movements and sputtering words. Some days the second hand smoke drifts into the office worse than others and I curse Don in my mind. Then by grace I heard Don discussing his nasty habit with the company owner. In a split second I decided to mention that I’ve helped others in overcoming bad habits, including smoking, through meditation. That afternoon I sent Don a guided meditation that I thought he could relate to.

It hasn’t helped, I’m almost certain that he disregarded both my offer and the email I sent him in a matter of split seconds. Like many of us Don’s patterns are deeply engrained, such as acting like the world is out to get you. Recently, when a co-worker was helping me out with a task he and Don got into a shouting match. The owner yelled in attempt to dissolve the conflict. Don was pissed off that something he had printed wasn’t at the printer and he was accusing anyone and everyone of taking it. The documents were at the scanner/fax/printer and not the main printer, which I discovered to some exasperation. After completing my task I immediately went outside to get some fresh air and take a walk to unwind my stress from the event. These short walks are my therapeutic remedy and ritual for returning to my personal center.

There is a part of me that adores Don though, I don’t know why?! Perhaps it’s his small stature, but most likely because he doesn’t take shit from anyone and I can appreciate that. I enjoy the challenge of communicating with Don for some reason. I was unaware that I was such a massochist! I sense that he actually likes me even though he’s a heartbeat away from ripping into me if I misstep in his mind. Who knows though. Don circus is his own journey and what’s important is that I remain steadfast on mine.

I know I have a choice about my career and how I pursue income to survive. The current pandemic presents uninvited hinderances, that I need to approach courageously in my efforts to live freely. I’m sorting things out (slower than I wish were the case, as is the case with so much right now). I’m immensely grateful to my wife for her support in making our home a sanctuary and waking me up every morning to ‘take up the sword of yoga.’ Our morning mantra: Ek Ong Kaur Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru which means “Wake up. Be you. Live with Grace.” I’ve enjoyed profound experiences with the mantra, and I love the clarity of it’s meaning. This is perhaps the best way to put one foot in front of the other moving forward in each of our lives.. be alive, be ourselves, and be conscientious.

Can you relate? Do you have a ‘Don’ in your life? Reach out with your thoughts and feedback if this story was inspiring, repulsive, relatable, et. al. We need each other’s support now more than ever.

Namaste friends.