Psychologists have told us that one of the most common behaviors we practice is transference, which occurs when people transfer feelings from past experiences to their current experiences. As with so many facets of human behavior, it was Freud who first coined the term to describe this universal tendency.
Well, this past summer, I was reminded of the whole psychological concept of transference as I went through my day after calling the exterminator in the morning and pricing a visit to address a problem that finally popped up on my radar screen. As for the problem, it took me a while before I realized the extent of it. During my periodic dips in my hot tub off the small back deck, I began noticing the occasional dead yellow jacket in the water floating by me. When I first noticed it, I just chalked it up to some bad flight patterns and scooped them out into the yard when I saw them.
Originally, I had a pretty crazy idea. But when it comes to insects and others that populate the great outdoors, really, can anything be considered out of the question? I thought maybe the yellow jackets had somehow gotten inside the unit under the hot tub’s shell. Then when I turned on the jets they were somehow getting sucked up into the tub.
One of the two reasons I thought this is because, unless I’m in the tub, the cover is always securely fastened. And when I am in the tub, not once did I see any insects taking a swan dive into the water.
After emailing both my former salesperson and also a most excellent customer service rep, Karolyn Eversole, who always within one day emails me the help or advice I need, she redirected my thinking. Karolyn said that there had to be a hive somewhere. Finally, above the spa in the upper corner of the house’s corner where the lower roof of the garage and the edge of the house’s second floor come together, I saw some buzzing around up there.
While I couldn’t see any hive anywhere, when I began seeing a few more buzzing around up there, I knew something needed to be done by someone younger than I am. After all, the place to be for a 71-year-old is NOT on a ladder.
When I was told by the extermination company’s phone person that the service call would be, with tax, just shy of $200, I was, as one might expect, pretty annoyed that a bunch of buzzing creatures had selected my house to hang around, when there was a whole great outdoors out there, and that it was going to cost me that much to address the problem.
So, with that nettlesome buzzing issue on my mind, off I went to work: this time, as I am three or four times a month, to Indiana to do my housekeeping inspections for Mid-American Cleaning Contractors. As for the transference, well, mad about the whole yellow jacket situation, I found myself being so overly critical of so many folks I saw during that day. Now, it was tacit criticism but criticism nonetheless since I know what I was saying to myself.
Those I saw with hair dyed different colors, those with various skin piercings and those with different clothing that didn’t quite conform to what anything I would do were dismissed by me with silent shakes of my head.
Now, as I have aged, I really have tried to be more tolerant of others, especially since my pal Jim O’Neill told me during one of our frequent breakfasts a story that took place many years ago when he was a student. The story involves one of his teachers during the early 1970s.
Jim recalled for me that one day he was talking with one of his classmates before the bell rang to begin class and made, as teens have done since the dawn of time, a somewhat critical comment about another classmate. The teacher overheard the comment, and Jim told me delivered a lesson that had nothing to do with a textbook’s subject matter, but was one of the most valuable lessons of his four high school years. The teacher forcefully said to the future well-respected and highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon, “Hey, everybody’s got their own story to tell!”
As soon as that anecdote popped into my head, I gave myself a good talking to, ceased the cynicism and stopped assessing those who walked around me for the rest of the day.
By day’s end, I’d formulated two conclusions. First, my home issues were nothing compared to, say, the man standing staring at a pile of smoldering timber where he once lived or someone whose house was reduced to rubble by a massive hurricane.
And, second, recalling the words of the teacher, there are some lessons taught in school so powerful that they continue to be so very valuable long after a teacher has passed.
Surely, everybody does indeed have a right to tell his or her own story.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected].