A woman gave me the finger the other day. She said some words I am going to assume were nasty too. Thankfully there were car windows and some space between us, so I didn’t hear what she had to say.
All I did was merge into her lane. It’s a tricky merge, as it’s basically two highways joining. I didn’t push my way in and certainly didn’t cut her off. She gave me just the smallest space to find my way in and I took it. I had approached the end of the merging lane, rolling along, slow as a snail and nobody had bothered to give me an inch. I’m not really sure what I did wrong. I can’t figure out why this would erupt into anger.
Where have the days gone where people looked at each other in the eyes and smiled? Gone are the days when people would hold doors for someone behind them? Why do people no longer thank someone for an act of kindness? Often today when you thank someone, they look surprised. If you hold a door, you almost startle people. This is translating into a new up and coming generation of ungratefulness that is really quite ugly. People will speed up to squeeze through closing doors and not give a second thought to the truth that it might slam in the face of the person behind them.
What’s worse is….how hard is it to be kind? How hard would it have been for the lady this morning to happily wave me in, and give me enough space that I don’t worry about my back bumper? Sure, she would have been delayed, by about 4 seconds. Am I asking too much?
It was the Terry Fox run at school the other day, and as the students sat watching the video of Terry talking about his Marathon of Hope, it resonated in me. Kindness means being selfless at times. That is hard for many people I guess ~ the idea of helping someone else just for no reason at all. But what I learned through writing The Memory Keepers, is that the few seconds it takes me to show kindness to others might be the one thing that makes that stranger’s day. Maybe their friend is sick. Or their child has died. Or their job has been lost. Or someone has been rude. Maybe they’ve just been diagnosed. Or they’re tired. Or broke. Maybe a relationship has broken down or a friend is dealing with anxiety. Maybe their teenager is rebelling or they are late. Maybe they’d just had a miscarriage, or their friend did, or they read about one, and it reminded them of their own. Or maybe it was the anniversary of any of these things and their mind was pre-occupied with worry and dread. One act of kindness can take the mind from dark drowning corners and send thoughts into a path of light. Although selfless, it is rewarding. The warmth you get in return is amazing.
So after that lady swore and gestured and shook her head and tailgated me, I smiled, waved and mouthed thank you. And then I let that frustration go. I don’t know. I just figure it’s the least I can do.