Half of my groceries are in my cart, but the lady behind me grabs a divider and slams her items on the belt. I squeeze between our carts, silently daring her to move even one inch closer. I’ve just had a pleasant shopping experience, having met smiles around every corner. Why is it that when I get to check-out peoples’ patience and friendliness diminish? I think it has a lot to do with the cash register or maybe some people are just hangry. I wonder how many cases of road rage occur amongst people who just left the store? She replied to the cashier nicely. I probably misinterpreted her, or maybe she was glad I was out of her way.
I’m not slow. I just don’t always move as fast as some people would like. I’m highly aware when people pressure me. Sometimes I answer out of consideration. Sometimes I’m guilty of driving below the speed limit to further irritate tailgaters. Most of the time, I focus on me, remembering the guy in my rearview mirror, swatting his hands at me to go faster, is not going to pay my speeding ticket.
I arrive at the gas station to the pump closest to the exit. I’ll be in and out in a jiffy. My gas pump clicks off, the truck at the pump in front of me pulls away, and a woman waits in her car behind me, but I’m not finished cleaning my windows. Lady, just pull around. There’s plenty of room. She just sat there, staring at me. I heard my parents’ words from long ago: Always move out of the way when you’re finished at the pump. How inconvenient. Still, I hopped in and pulled up, a decision that probably cost me six more minutes than I previously planned. Something told me I needed to change my attitude. I glanced back. She was still sitting in her car, smiling now. Oh, she’s an older lady. Okay, God, forgive me. I headed over to my passenger-side windshield, mostly out of embarrassment.
Then she emerged from between our cars, bracing half her weight against a cane. Immediately, I regretted my previous thoughts. They sizzled in my mind like a cracked egg on a hot skillet. I let them scorch. I wanted to throw them away. “I just want to tell you that was a beautiful thing you did,” she said. “I’m seeing less and less of that in the world these days, and I just want to let you know I appreciate it.” I stuttered “God bless you,” the kind of God bless you that means thank you for being such a fine human being because I feel like such a butt right now. I love receiving these kinds of lessons. They come down upon me like the lady at the store, slamming her case of Coke onto the belt, startling and irritating me initially then forcing me forward, thinking.
I’m not sure why the woman at the gas station didn’t pull around. Maybe it would’ve been too much maneuvering for the pain in her body. She only focused forward, searching for the good that encouraged her to keep moving one foot, then the other. I appreciated her staying behind me because she helped push me forward. It only hurts to move a little faster for people when we, ourselves, employ frustration and impatience. Sometimes it’s better to answer the pressure kindly and get out of the way. And it never hurts to put some gentle pressure on each other either.