My mother was patient and kind. She knew how to wait. For buses in the middle of winter. For one of her eight children to call on a Sunday afternoon. For a lifetime of prayers to be answered.
I did not inherit her patience gene. I’m more prone to precrastination than procrastination. I like to get to my goals quickly and efficiently.
Being gifted a new bench for my rooftop deck, I was eager to give it some bright new cushions. I did my research, made my selection, and placed an online order for same day pick up. Enjoying my day off, I cheerily drove to the store in my convertible, confident this would be quick.
The pick-up counter is immediately inside the entrance. This is going to be so easy. I press the button for assistance and wait. After a few minutes, a harried young man with Johnny on his name tag appears with another customer at his side. He says he’ll be right with me. I believe him.
He returns to the customer service counter. I notice, not without judgment, that he appears to be waiting on yet another customer who was not me. Meanwhile, another red vested staff person steps behind the pick-up counter and offers to help. Great!
I offer up my name, my phone number, my order number. “Are you here to pick up a chair?” he asks as he continues to search the computer with a completely confused look. Johnny returns to rescue him, and for a time the two study the screen while I wait. My efficiency plan was plummeting.
I look away, attempting to muster up some of Mom’s patience. The next thing I know, staff person #2 takes off his vest with a “thanks, man” and heads out the door leaving Johnny to solve the mystery of the missing order.
Johnny apologizes for the wait. “It must be tough on busy days like this,” I say as the phone keeps ringing. “I can’t tell you how stressed I am,” he confesses.
“Would you like me to answer the phone and take a message?” I joke with a smile. “It’s got to be hard working on a holiday and trying to keep everyone happy.”
“You’re the only one who hasn’t yelled at me today,” he says, not looking up.
“Oh, my,” I say. “You certainly don’t deserve that when you’re just trying to do your best.” I offer to go aisle 25 and retrieve my tropical print selection. The tension releases from his serious face as he points me in the right direction.
In just a few minutes I select my cushions. As I approach to pay I hear a voice. “I can help you over here.”
Johnny is in a check-out lane. “I want to give you a discount for the wait,” he explains. I express my gratitude.
“This is your discount,” he said, quietly pointing to the receipt.
We can all benefit from remembering: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. I may not have my mother’s patience, but I’m grateful to call forth a kernel of her kindness when it’s my time to wait.
How does your impatience impact your kindness?
Are you being kind and patient with yourself?
What small kindness might you show today?