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.


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Showing Love, Serving in Coffee Hour

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 2, 2014


tea party

Showing Love, Serving in Coffee Hour

I served others intentionally today. I co-hosted in Coffee Hour at my church. Another way of talking about it is that I showed people love in a concrete, down-to-earth way today.

I wonder—how difficult is it to serve people, on a regular basis? I could ask a few of my relatives. While looking for work doing other things, several of them did work in the service sector. Restaurant servers, cab drivers. As for me, I’ve worked for several years in customer service, and as a caregiver for seniors.

Hosting (actually, serving) in Coffee Hour after church on Sunday is serving, too (except not for pay). I co-hosted with a wonderful couple in my church. Together, we made sure that everything was laid out and ready for everyone to come downstairs and eat. Then, we served the muffins, breads, fruit, and veggies we had set out on the tables. Poured coffee, tea and ice water, too. Since I was the youngest of the three of us hosts, I was more than happy to run back and forth from the church kitchen. Running, fetching things people asked for, getting items forgotten in our rush to get everything ready. Service. An opportunity for me to make things easier for others.

But this is a new month. Thus, I’m concentrating on a different verse from Scripture. Last month was Ephesians 4:32, where I looked for ways to be kind and tenderhearted towards others. This month, I want to seek out ways to show love to others. The verse that I will concentrate on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

By being a host and serving others in Coffee Hour, I tried to show love in truth and action. Certainly a tangible way of making others comfortable, facilitating things, and providing a pleasant atmosphere for people to enjoy some food, friends and conversation after the morning service. I hope I made things easier for a number of seniors, but also for some parents of small children.

I recognize that serving at church (in other words, sticking around a little longer, not running out the door as soon as the postlude starts) is also a way to make closer connections. Service in the church or at other religious organizations helps me make better friends with some people I don’t otherwise know very well. I’ve had any number of opportunities to do this, too. If I should ever need more friends, this is one sure-fire way for me to find them, too.

What a chance for me to get out of myself. Or, to get out of my rut (whatever rut I’m currently in). Or, an opportunity to serve God. However I look at the service in Coffee Hour today, I enjoyed it. I felt good working with the wonderful couple, and being of service to the rest of the congregation. So, a win-win-win situation, all the way around. I was pleased with my morning of service. I think God was, too!