So, I’m at the post office the other day. I had been tasked with purchasing some $.17 stamps for the branch. As I entered the lobby, I pulled out my Business Line card. This allows me to go to the business window rather than stand in the consumer line.
I know, I know. . it sounds like “taking cuts” but you’d certainly appreciate it if I were getting thousands of customer statements metered, or some other time-consuming, business transaction.
The clerk waves me over and asked the consumer, who was next in line, to wait. I’m sure you’ve already imagined where this is going. Of course the lady was upset that she had waited in line for quite a while and here I just show up and step to the front of the line. THE BUSINESS LINE. . MIND YOU.
She ranted and raved a bit and asked why I was so special. The clerk, clearly flustered but holding her own, explained that this line is reserved for business customers to keep us from holding up the other line with our lengthy transactions. The lady was unthwarted. . but, but, . . .how do I get one of those cards then? I’m self-employed. I’m a business!
I couldn’t help myself. . “Oh, I know you. . yeah, you’re the lady that gets really angry when you come to the bank and there’s no one available to help you. That’s because the lobby staff IS STANDING IN LINE AT THE POST OFFICE.”
Truly, I can understand her frustration. Life has become a series of lines and waiting and sitting on hold and “push 1” for this and “push 2” for that. I get it. I really need to check myself and consider the many times I’ve felt that someone got to “take cuts in line.” Do you recognize any of these moments of flared temper:
You’re driving along and suddenly 3 lanes become 2. You merge over early, as you see an available opening and decide not to stress out about it. As you sit and sit and more cars drive past you to merg, just inches away from the cones. . .you feel a little bubbling of anger. . why can’t they wait like I did? They’re just driving up to the front of the line and making me wait longer!
You’re waiting in line at the grocery store. There’s a screaming kid in front of you that keeps reaching for the candy and his mom keeps slapping his hand and he’s clearly unhappy about this adventure today. A lady comes up behind you and makes a comment about how this store always has lines and she should stop shopping here. . .meanwhile, she isn’t paying attention and she hits you with the cart 2-3 times. The lane next to you suddenly opens and you hear, “I can help the next person over here. . “ You make a mad dash but 3 people that were waiting behind you get there first. That’s hardly fair. . .I’ve been waiting longer than any of them. . than all of them combined!
REALLY? Are we really living such all-important lives that we can’t wait our turn? I know it’s not fair. . life’s not fair. In fact, sometimes, it’s just downright unfair all around. It’s not fair that children get sick and die. It’s not fair that a dear friend of mine is bedridden in the final stages of cancer and I’m not able to see her. . to thank her for what she’s meant to me these past few years that I’ve known her; to tell her I love her. It’s not fair that my Dad died just months before my wedding. It’s not fair that I have to stick a port in me every 3 days because my pancreas got tired. It’s not fair that my dear hubby has to put up with all my medical issues. . every day.
But it is the ONLY life and the only today I’m gonna get and I can choose to concentrate on the unfairness of it all or I can choose to stand in line with a smile and possibly meet someone new. I can live my life in honor of those I’ve lost and hopefully pass on the courage and fight I learned from them, on to someone else. I can live this medically challenged life with grace and teach someone else how to cope with chronic disease. I can encourage someone else to keep fighting, keep smiling, keep pushing. I can teach my kids that this. . this is how a strong woman faces adversity, overcomes it and goes on to find a new challenge.
Next time I go to the Post Office, I’ll wait in line. Perhaps I’ll have a few minutes to talk to someone in line that’s feeling discouraged, mistreated or cheated. Perhaps I’ll just share a little smile, a nod, a glance. They may be too busy. . fiddling with their smartphone, texting or having another conversation. That’s ok too. But just maybe. . .