I am not sure if it’s the relentless summer heat or if it’s part of aging, as suggested by my friend, but my patience well has been quite dry lately. In other words, I find myself way more easily irritated. I couldn’t even stand hearing myself when I gave in to these petty annoyances as it’s impossible to shove angry words back in once they have been callously spat and sputtered out.
A few days ago, I was paying for some items at a store. The cashier, exuding sour attitude with her every gesture and word, got to me. As she proceeded to carelessly toss every item into the plastic bag, I felt the ugly urge to express my displeasure. Regularly, I would have just ignored it because I hate confrontation of any kind. But at that moment, I just spilled out, “What is the problem? Are you having a bad day or something?!” I fully intended to tell her off. But, she heard it differently.
She paused, looked at me and said in a shaky voice, “Yes, it has been a terrible few days. My life is a mess. Hot mess. You have no idea. No one understands.” She just shook her head, looked down and finished up the transaction. Just as she handed me the receipt, she said, “Thank you for asking.” Still stunned, I managed to mumble some well wishes before leaving the store. I sat in the car for a bit to soak in what just transpired. The sorrow and desperation in her voice had stayed with me. I felt regret and humbled for this one fortunate misunderstanding. I wish I could just apologize to her but I couldn’t. Truth is, it doesn’t matter if I have my reasons for being so quick to anger. No one should ever have to suffer me.
Everything we say and do carry weight. They bear consequences, some more than others, of course. Not only do we determine the kind of days we have, we can also determine what kind of days others are having as well, even those of strangers who barely cross path with us. Every day, we can choose between uplifting those around us or adding to their misery. We can choose to be compassionate and understanding or hurtful and unhelpful. The decision fully lies with us.
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
~ Mr. Rogers
Have a wonderful weekend!