My mind was full of what was next on my ‘to-do’ list as I pulled into the parking lot. The endless list of things that needed to be done but never quite get completed were racing through my head. Trying not to be hard on myself, I knew I just needed to run into the store for a few things and then I could be on my way.
Well, as soon as this car that is backing out way too slowly gets out of my way. Does this person know how to drive? How do they not know that they are in my way and why can’t they go faster? I have things to get done.
And then I took a closer look. The car was a fairly new sedan with a handicapped symbol on the license plate and another symbol hanging from the rear view mirror. I looked at her face. She seemed confused and it appeared that something was wrong.
The cars were lining up behind her. Luckily, I had no one waiting behind me, so I slowly moved closer to her car and rolled down my window. I nicely yelled “Is everything ok?”. She seemed startled that I was calling out to her so I repeated myself. She finally answered, “I can’t get my steering wheel to move. It’s stuck! Can you help me?”.
I am definitely nota car expert so I quickly thought how to help. I offered the only suggestion that I could think of. Having a car with a similar issue in the past, I told her to put the car in park, turn off the ignition, and then restart the car. Sometimes the power steering just needs to reset. I don’t know much more than that but she did as I suggested and, by golly, it worked!
She was so grateful and she looked very relieved. We bid our farewells and moved on with our day. I was happy to be able to help and I’m sure she was relieved to no longer be stuck blocking the path in the parking lot.
Now, let’s think about this for a moment. My mind was already full of what I had to get done, what I hadn’t been able to get done, and that I was already feeling behind in my day. I could have just sat there impatiently and honked my horn to indicate that she needed to get a move on, as if she didn’t already know that.
I’ve done that before. I’ve been the grumpy, impatient driver that only focused on where I needed to go. I have been inconsiderate of the other person’s situation. Perhaps it comes with age or experience, but I’ve really tried to make a conscious effort to pay less attention to my self-involved needs. Sometimes it comes easily and sometimes I just move forward, only focused on my tasks at hand.
For some reason, I took a moment to take a look at this lovely lady in her car. I took a moment to try to understand her situation. And, as luck would have it for her, to help.
There was no true reward for me, other than to be able to park my car. However, this experience stuck with me. I thought about her afterward, enough so that it inspired me to write this. It reminded me to pay more attention to others. To think less about what is going on in my little world and focus more on someone else’s situation.
Maybe she’s a widow, or her husband is sick at home. Maybe she was taking lunch to her grandchild or a friend that needed help. Or, maybe she was just trying to get out of the house for a bit and lift her own spirits. Whatever the case may be, we all have to-do lists and endless chores to complete. At one point or another during this strange year, we have all felt the impact that COVID has had on our day-to-day lifestyles. It has stressed us out!
“We don’t wear signs on our backs to signify our challenges. So, it bears in mind to try to remember to be more kind.”
Yet, shouldn’t this year, of all years, inspire us to take a closer look at what things are important? Like kindness. Just simple kindness for other human beings. Why? Because we don’t know the cross that another person bears. We don’t know the situation of the person standing next to us in line at the grocery. We don’t know the challenge of the person sitting next to us in traffic. That neighbor that we haven’t seen in several months? Well, what if she is grieving the unexpected loss of her spouse?
We don’t wear signs on our backs to signify our challenges. So, it bears in mind to try to remember to be more kind. With the situation that I described above, it was really only 2 or 3 minutes out of my day but it stayed with me for the rest of the day and honestly, beyond that. I could have been rude and abrupt with my response but somehow I was able to see her situation vs. just the minor inconvenience that I thought I had encountered.
Look, we all know this year has been one of the most difficult that we have ever experienced. Perhaps as 2020 comes to a close, we can learn from its obstacles. Take the time to smile more, take more deep breaths as we move about our day, and try to open our eyes to others around us. We just may find ourselves on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness.
Wishing you health, happiness, and most definitely kindness.
Thanks for crossing another bridge with me.
Until next time -