While walking through the area where flowers are sold, an elderly woman was standing right in the middle of the aisle. She didn't move when she saw me, she just continued to stand there, in my way, holding me up. And, between you and me, she was getting on my nerves.
In my mind I was wondering "Why won't this woman move? Is this an instance of Trump-induced entitlement, and she just doesn't think she has to get out of my way? Does she think that this is her world and I'm just lucky to be a part of it?" I am usually very tolerant of seniors, but not this time. This time, I was getting a little heated. But then I thought to myself...
What if she's buying flowers for the family of a close friend who just died?
What if this is her first time buying flowers since her husband passed away?
What if she's momentarily confused and isn't sure what she should do next?
I really had no idea why that woman was just standing there and the stories I'd made up in my mind could have been as far from the truth as the east is from the west.
Then I was quickly reminded of a time about six years ago when I was in the blender section of my local Target store. I wasn't there to buy just any blender and this wasn't a purchase I really wanted to make. I was there because a loved one was fighting cancer and wanted to try a holistic approach. We'd found recipe for a concoction he could drink and this recipe called for a variety of ingredients that needed to be blended together. We needed a super-duper blender, and that's what I was there to buy.
I remember seeing the other women in the aisle, imagining them looking for a blender to make smoothies for their families or to try a new recipe they were making for their Sunday dinner. And, while I was happy for them, I was sad for myself. And I thought about the fact that they had no idea that why I was there in that same aisle with them.
Just like I had no idea why the woman was in the flower section on yesterday. We just never know, do we?
So it made me think that I really ought to treat everyone as if they're having a bad day. By that I mean that I should go the extra yard, give the extra smile, extend a little extra patience. Sometimes it won't be warranted, but what about the time that it is? For example...
When I go shopping with my sisterfriend, Karen, I love the way she interacts with the salespeople. She is always bubbly and friendly and makes them feel as though she's so happy to know them. If any salesperson working with Karen was having a bad day, I know that my friend has made them feel a little better. I've never asked her why she does this, but I admire it and I try to imitate it as much as possible. Her kindness is contagious!
So, note to self, and maybe to you, too: You just never know what a person is going through. Some of the most hurting people look fine on the outside, but on the inside they are torn apart. Be patient. Be kind. That gesture can make a world of difference.