Today at the grocery store, I was standing in the tea aisle when a man walked by with his frail wife pushing the cart. He politely said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” when he went in front of me and then impatiently and not so nicely asked his wife, “Is this what you want? WHAT?”.
I’ve said it before, and it hasn’t changed: The world would be a much better place if we treated our husbands, wives, and families as well as our friends, complete strangers, and the people we hardly ever see.
I once had someone tell me it’s natural for the ones we love to feel comfortable enough around us to let their consideration slide at times. I think that’s a stretch, but it is easier to be thoughtless when we know we have nothing to lose or don’t care, right?
I worked in the retail sector and as a waitress for a while. I admit I was a poor waitress because it takes skill and timing to take orders and serve hot, fresh meals to the customer in the correct sequence. Who wants their pie alamode arriving before they’ve finished with their main course and getting mushier by the minute? True story.
But this lovely couple, who gulped down their meal so they wouldn’t have to drink their pie alamode with a straw, had mercy on me. They smiled and left me a decent tip. That’s something I noticed in the truck stop where I waited tables. If you put in the effort and did your best, even if your best was not very good, the patrons, many of who were truckers, were kind and tipped you anyway.
Then there was a time as a young woman when I was a ticket booth operator at an Amish tourist spot. One hectic day, I got flustered while counting change back to an old man and got a rather stern and heartless chewing out in front of a line of waiting people. Needless to say, his words made it hard for this already cracked person to finish her shift. Over the years, I’ve grown into myself and traded my wavering, trembling voicelessness for a more assertive, protective voice. To this day, I comfort and encourage those I see who are the victims of anothers harmful words.You can witness the weariness on their faces and a confidence that’s been ripped to shreds by another person who probably has their own story to tell. Most bullies do.
Why is it so hard to be nice? Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we can’t feel anymore? Do we have to pull someone else down to lift ourselves up? Make them look bad? Embarrass and humiliate them and make sure we “one-up” them? Why?
We don’t need to micromanage every aspect of our lives and the lives of others and then get upset when our expectations aren’t met. We can learn to trust that God’s plan is at work without our direction and opinions. We can pause before letting loose with our frustrations on another poor soul. We can choose to give the benefit of the doubt.
We can learn the art of feeling empathy and feel it in our heart. Jesus is a wonderful teacher.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12