When you don’t live anywhere near an ocean, and the snow is so high you can build an igloo the size of Trump Tower, and you travel on Christmas day because all you want is to see the ocean—a room without a view is like an amusement park without a ride.
I had a view, of course. Even a brick wall is considered a view, right? Okay, it wasn’t that bad. The hotel pool and bar isn’t as bad as a brick wall. Although a brick wall doesn’t make as much as noise.
It was fine though, because the beach was steps away from the hotel and the view doesn’t get any better than that. I was there before the first wave hit the shore in the morning.
I broke the rules and moved my chair away from all the others and set it as close to the shore as I could, without getting wet. I brought a book to read, but why bother? The sun-coated blue ripples were too distracting. Besides, my muscles were melting fast, so holding a book felt like too much work.
I heard them coming minutes before they arrived.
Four women, armed with plastic buckets and shovels.
I smiled; they were going to build a sand castle. How cute is that?
They scanned the area for the perfect piece of land.
“Oh, this is it girls!” the forewoman proclaimed when she found it. She waved the others over and they laid their equipment down.
Right in front of my chair. Directly in front of my chair.
My smile fell.
I looked around the beach. It was lightly scattered with people. There was space everywhere!
“Why would they pick this particular space, my space?” I couldn’t help thinking. I don’t own the beach, I get it, but…
I sat back and tried to relax as they negotiated the design of their sandcastle. Since I couldn’t see in front of me and I couldn’t hear the waves crashing in the same way, I thought, “Well, I can always read until they’re done.”
But that felt wrong to me. I came here for the view, and I had a right to it. I also had a right to be kind to myself, and this time, that meant speaking up. Obviously they were unaware that they were in my space and how it affected me.
“Excuse me,” I began. When I had their attention I said, “Would it be possible for you to build your sandcastle somewhere else? I can’t see the beautiful view anymore.” I smiled the whole time, to prove that rudeness wasn’t involved in this.
“Oh, sure, we can move,” the boss said. She and the others looked at me, expressionless, then walked to the left without another word.
They moved three feet away. But it was enough so that I could see in front of me.
When they were done with their sandcastle I overheard their conversation.
“Where should we put our chairs?” one asked.
“I don’t know, as long as we don’t sit next to that bitch,” said another.
I knew they were talking about me. I faced them and, sure enough, four pairs of eyes were watching me.
“How am I a bitch?” I thought. “Because I asked for what I wanted? Because I spoke up?”
I wanted to run over there and kick their sandcastle over! But, I sat tight. I learned the hard way that reacting instead of reflecting can be dangerous. It does take a lot of courage and restraint to sit with your feelings before making a move, but when you do, logic has room to enter.
When I calmed down I realized I didn’t need or want to defend myself. I closed my eyes and let the beach work its magic on me once again.
I was glad I didn’t let those women ruin my day. I wonder how theirs was?