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How to Be Kind, While Standing in Line

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 20, 2014

when someone is nasty

How to Be Kind, While Standing in Line

I stood in line two times today. And I mean, in serious lines.

First, at the post office. I mailed a Christmas present to one of my relatives in another city. I stood in line outside the post office as I waited for the door to open, first thing this morning. And then (because I was not the first one in line outside), I waited longer inside.

However, mostly because it was in our small, local post office, people were generally very nice. Nice to the postal worker behind the counter—who is a long-time worker at our post office, and a super nice guy. Also, nice to each other—and comfortable talking with one another, even though people weren’t acquainted before waiting in line together.

So, yes. I did end up waiting a total of twenty minutes at the post office. The time I spent there was pleasant and genial. Altogether, a nice experience.

I also waited in line at the bank. I had some banking business to transact this morning, and it was helpful for me to interact with a teller. However—there was only one teller inside at the window. Moreover, she not only had to wait on people in line, she also needed to handle the customers outside, in the drive-up lane. It was between 11:30 and noon, on the Saturday morning before Christmas.

Whoever came up with that for an employee allocation plan? Finally—another employee came over to the teller windows and started helping the bank customers. But that was after I had been in line some twenty minutes.

I could tell that the fellow people waiting in line at the bank were getting short-tempered. The atmosphere was completely different from that at the post office. Not pleasant. Not genial.

I decided to start talking. In my friendly way (similar to the way I interacted at the post office earlier today), I made several general comments to the people around me. Talking about how busy it was outside, and how long the lines must be at the post offices on the Saturday before Christmas. The two people behind me warmed to the subject. We talked for a bit. Just before I went up to see the teller, I looked back in line. Eleven people behind me.

Good grief. I ended up waiting in a stark, somber bank line for more than thirty minutes. Here’s hoping those behind me had a better experience after I left.

So often, people decide to react in either a positive or a negative way. The line at the post office was a positive experience. I hope I made the lengthy wait at the bank a little more bearable for a few people. Using my chaplainly, pastoral care skills, I think I did. God willing.

@chaplaineliza

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