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Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Bring the Rolls

I am, regrettably, a last minute person. Procrastinating works for me...I love the adrenalin rush and get a thrill trying to make it under the wire. I realize, though, that just because I like waiting until the last minute doesn't mean it works for everyone else. So when we have holiday gatherings at my house, I do most of the cooking and seldom ask others for much. This isn't because I am a fabulous cook or I don't want their items at my dinner table---it's because I am too lazy to plan a menu until the last minute and don't want to impose on them to deal with my last minute decisions.
A recent conversation with a family member gave me an epiphany---my failure to incorporate others into my menu may have resulted in hurt feelings. My not wanting to inconvenience others because I wait so late to plan has been interpreted as "I don't want your food". The very person I'd wanted to spare of my last minute ways the most (because this person is a super planner who wouldn't be caught dead in a store the day before a holiday) may be the most offended; my assigning this person to bring the rolls may have translated into "your food isn't good enough".
This makes me wonder - how many times have my feelings been hurt or I have felt slighted by something that truly is a misunderstanding? On how many different occasions have I assigned ill-intent to something that may actually have been intended as a kind gesture?Probably pretty often. I have a tendency to take things personally and wear my feelings on my sleeve. SO --- I am resolved to work harder to give the benefit of the doubt, and not always assigning malicious intent to things said or done to me.
Bet you thought I was going to resolve to plan my holiday meals earlier and be more inclusive, right? Let's take one step at a time...old habits die hard :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Random Kindness

Recently I went through the drive-thru of Potbelly's for lunch. I had a five and a ten dollar bill in my wallet. The total was $5.83 so I took out the five and then went to get change. After rifling through my coins I discovered that I had more pennies than anything, so I decided to forget giving exact change. I sat mindlessly, listening to the radio and getting lost in my thoughts when the cashier opened the window. I handed her the money in my hand. She paused, then asked me if I had the change. "How did she know I planned to give exact change?" I thought to myself. I told her "Not enough to worry about". She looked puzzled, then nicely said "OK, don't worry about it. Your order will be up in a minute". I wondered why she said not to worry about it, but then didn't give it another thought. What would there be for me to worry about it? But I would appreciate my change, I thought. After a few seconds, I began to get a little antsy, wondering what was taking her so long to give me my change. As the seconds continued to pass, I couldn't imagine what was the problem. Suddenly my brain decided to function and in a panic I looked into my wallet, where a lone $10 bill sat. I realized that the cashier didn't give me change because I shorted her by $0.83! I'd forgotten to switch the $5 for a $10 when I discovered how low I was on change. I frantically search the bottom of my purse and dug up 83 cents. I try to get her attention, but she was busy. Finally she opens the window and with a broad smile hands me my order. I clumsily explain my misunderstanding, apologize, and thank her profusely for being nice enough to overlook my "lack" of money.

This little event made my day. Number one, I had to laugh at myself and how I must have come across to the cashier. What an idiot? And I had the nerve to be impatient (in my mind) with her. Then I was struck by her kindness. Not once did she seem annoyed or irritated, though she had a customer not giving her enough money and then saying that it wasn't enough to worry about. If I were in her shoes, I probably would have politely recommended removing the drink from my order since I couldn't pay. But most of all, in an age where people are rude and uncaring it was refreshing to have someone be so nice. I left there with a resolve to do something nice for someone else.

How about you? What is one thing you can do to brighten someone elses day?

Friday, October 8, 2010

F bombs and other obscenities

My 14 year old and I were enjoying a casual stroll down the street this evening, on our way to her favorite eatery. A truck drove past and a very audible "you're shi@!ing me" came from the window. As I shook my head, I couldn't help but reflect on how frequently I've noticed what a profane society we've become. I don't think I have become one of those old, intolerant individuals---at least at 41 I hope not to be considered old. But it seems that every which way you turn, people have no problem launching obscenities. A recent visit to a college campus illustrated this point perfectly. Every corner you turned, you could hear f bombs being launched as easily as one might say "good morning".
I don't think my forty-one year old sensibilities are prude. And truth be told, I can be known to launch a few words from time to time myself. But whatever happened to the day when saying damn was strong language? Or when teens might sound like drunken truckers amongst themselves, but wouldn't dare use obscenities in the presence of an adult. These days you can hear teens curse and not bat an eye. I have had the opportunity to observe this in various settings and conclude that this phenomenon is no respecter of persons--it crosses both genders, all races, social classes and economic groups.
I am not naive enough to believe that we will ever return to the days of Andy Griffith or The Brady Bunch. Hopefully, though, we can turn the tides a bit. There was once a time when use of vulgar language and profanity was a class distinction, and those with "proper upbringing" wouldn't dare to publicly use such language. Now, though, it's a national pastime but it makes our society look bad.