I get along well with most people. However there happen to be a few people in my life who may actually hate me. They haven’t told me they hate me directly, but I’m deducing this from the look of wrath I see on their faces when they encounter me.
The first individual is someone who I see every morning, Monday through Friday. It’s my daughter’s bus driver. I don’t know her name and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. Because she hates me.
We got off to a rocky start at the beginning of the school year since she created some new rule which says that everyone has to be at the bus stop five minutes before the bus arrival time. I thought that was the dumbest rule ever–I mean, it’s not as if I have five extra minutes to just SPARE in the morning. I’m not usually a defiant person, but in this case it seemed logical to ignore this rule.
Or at least it was logical until she decided to take a more official approach, by handing me a letter from the Transportation Department of my daughter’s school district stating that it was imperative that we were at the bus stop five minutes prior to boarding the bus.
I tried my best (I really did!) to follow that rule for about a week. It was, indeed, a challenge because she never seemed to arrive at the same time everyday. Furthermore, I thought to myself, how the heck would she know if we were there at the stop five minutes early or not? It’s not like she has ESP. Or at least I don’t think she does. 😳
So, what I started to do in the morning was just to drive up to the neighborhood where my daughter catches the bus (we don’t live there anymore, which is another reason why it is difficult to predict our arrival time/bus schedule) and assess where the bus was at in its route by hunting it down. Then I would go to the next stop and wait there with my daughter. So she’s always there at a stop and ready to go, but I just take her to whichever stop I can get to before Miss Bus 95 arrives. This stop may change from day to day.
She hasn’t reprimanded me for being at the “wrong stop” yet, but she gives me her look of wrath every day.
The second person who hates me is my mail carrier. I have made it a practice of hiding from her when I’m at home. This all started when I forgot to “lock” my mailbox. She left a note on my door which stated, “Lock your mailbox again so I can leave your mail. Also, you have to start checking your mailbox at least three times a week.” Since this incident, she has left me two additional post-it notes about the importance of checking my mailbox several times a week. When I have the misfortune of encountering her, she gives me a look comparable to her pushing a thousand daggers through my heart.
I tried telling her I was sorry once for not being a better mail checker. She looked the other way.
The third person who hates me is the receptionist at my doctor’s office. I’ve only been late once, but once was enough.
She’s never treated me the same way since.
And right now I might as well add my daughter to the list, since she’s in her room, singing a song she composed in in A minor about the “worst mother in the world.” The lyrics include the following phrase, “She takes away my candy! She isn’t handy!”
The one thing all of these people who may hate me have in common (with the exception of my daughter), is that they don’t actually know me on a personal level; nor do I know them. The woman who drives bus 95 may actually be a really nice person when she’s not driving a bus. The mail carrier is just trying to do her job. The receptionist just has a low tolerance for tardiness, because when I’m late it throws the doctor’s whole schedule off.
There’s a popular saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Well, that’s a really nice saying, but it’s really hard to do when you’re in a hurry, or flustered, or just are caught up in the one thousand thoughts in your head.
When I’m flustered and someone snaps at me, my tendency is to jump to the assumption of, “this person hates me” or “I can’t please this person, so I might as well just avoid him or her.”
While in reality, the mature approach would be to “be kind” as the quote says, and not assume that their reprimands come from a place of hate. Their reprimands are just reprimands, which serve a purpose for them and their goals.
And my goal tonight is to make this recipe for Eggplant Au Gratin. This. Is. So. Good. Like if I could marry a casserole, this would be the casserole I would marry. It has marinara, cheese, and eggplant. It’s like lasagna without the pasta.
It’s from that chef named Barefoot Contessa. Here it is:
Eggplant Au Gratin
Good olive oil, for frying
¾ pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2 inch thick
¼ cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
¼ cup half-and-half
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup bottled marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (I’m always glad that recipes remind me to do this first.)
Heat about 1/8 inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat it, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
In each of two individual gratin dishes, (or you could use a pie pan like I do), place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon half of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.
Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.
Get it in your belly!