I was at work the other day and had gone down to the cafeteria to get coffee, which is THE nectar of the gods if you were wondering.  I stroll up to the machine and put my cup under it and pull the trigger.  As I am doing so, this man is cussing under his breath about the lack of hot water and the bad service in the cafeteria.  Me, being the curious sort (nosey was more like it), turned to see what he was groaning about.  The hot water spigot on the coffee maker was broken, and in the mean time, the staff had put hot water in one of those carafes that you push down the top and the liquid comes out. Apparently, the carafe had run out of hot water as well.  Hence, the groaning man.  He turned to me since I was checking out his dilemma and started to complain to me about there being no hot water left and it was the same thing yesterday.  I guess he was looking for some sympathy from me, but I had none. I said to him that the carafe only holds so much water and is bound to run out eventually, while thinking, “It’s 10:30am.  Our cafeteria opens at 6:30am every day and if you came down here at 10:30 am yesterday and there was no hot water perhaps YOU should have brought yourself down here a little earlier and then you would have had some hot water.”  I told him just to ask and I’m sure they would get some more hot water.  I think he was a little taken aback that I was not on his side.  He then started to complain about the service.  To which I responded, “Perhaps they are doing the best they can with what they have.” He was stunned…..but he stopped complaining.

We all get up in the morning and have expectations about how the day will go, that it will go perfectly, to our liking, smoothly.  We get in our cars, get on the road, see the backed up traffic, and get frustrated and start ranting and raving, worried we’re not going to get to work on time.  Some people get to cussing and swearing, flippin’ the bird.  I do it too.  I think we forget that NOTHING is guaranteed, not even a smooth ride to work. We are not guaranteed to get the parking spot we want.  We’re not guaranteed that our children will turn out to be fantastic human beings no matter the effort that we put into trying to make them so. And then we’re quick to blame something or someone or get upset without perhaps knowing the full circumstances of the situation.  We seem to have no patience for other people, but want everyone to be patient with us. 

Take the hot water hound.  Nowhere did he mention aloud that perhaps he could have come down earlier to get his hot water since he knew from the day before that the water might run out later in the morning.  Nor did he acknowledge that perhaps the carafe wasn’t immediately filled because the staff either could have been doing something else and didn’t know it was empty or the cafeteria may have been understaffed and didn’t have anyone to stand there with baited breath to refill the carafe as soon as it was empty, so that when his highness came down, there would be water. We won’t mention the hot water dispensers on every floor in the building either for that matter. Nope, instead, he was upset because his perfect day wasn’t going as he thought it should.  He needed his hot water now.

Some things we don’t have control over, but how we respond says a lot about who we are as people. I am not saying that there are not times when people are intentionally not behaving properly and insist on ruining the day.  Misery loves company, there are some people , or even some situations that will do that.  But we should remind ourselves that we are part of something bigger.  Being good stewards of the earth is a big catchphrase of late. But what about being stewards of humanity?  

For instance, last summer while on vacation, I went to get tickets for a show.  When I got to the ticket booth, I could tell the young woman behind the counter was not having a good day.  She looked at me and tried to conduct the transaction, but her eyes filled with tears.  I could have proceeded forward and thought she was crazy and unprofessional for crying at the booth, or I could give her a moment to collect herself.  I chose the latter.  I told her to take her time, that I would wait. There, I think is the key, the waiting.  We are so used to a “I need it right this second” mindset, that we are so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we sometimes forget to be human beings to one another.  A few moments was all this young woman needed.  She gathered herself, cleaned off her face, and then was able to assist me.  She appreciated my patience, thanked me, and smiled.

 “Do Unto Others….”



4 Responses to “Guaranteed……”

  1. Wilma Says:

    What a lovely piece – my read for the day! You so rightly quoted, “Do unto others..” from JC himself (Mat 7:12) and also something about being swift in listening, slow about speaking, slow about wrath…(James 1:19). Thanks much for sharing!

  2. Regina Says:

    what timing on this topic. I was getting my oil changed at the Shell Station there on Little River and chose to hang out with the ever delightful Afghani that always has a smile and a story to tell. I was telling him a version of how I start my work days at 5:30 a.m and almost always find that there is a patient there before me because the office seems to think they need to get there at the crack of dawn. Every time when I open the door to the pre-op area I get blasted by a “it’s about time. We’ve been here since -X- hour”. I just smile and tell them I’m sorry but it’s wasn’t me that got them up early to torture them and sometimes I just want to post a sign “Don’t yell at your Nurse, she’s here to help you”. (Besides…I gently remind them, I will need to insert an IV and do you really want to piss me off? JK!)
    Anyhow…my Shell friend nods in agreement and then tells me about his start to the day where someone who clearly has had a bad morning pulls up to the pump, tries to swipe their card, does it wrong, comes in….looks at him and utters: “Great, another one who doesn’t speak english”….without even attempting a hello. My Shell friend says, “Well, good morning to you to. How can I help you?” Cranky man says “you’re pumps are all screwed up”. Shell friend proceeds to try to help and obviously takes just a second too long to which cranky man responds: “screw you and your gas you freaking terrorist”.
    We both howled with laughter at how absurd and idiotic that was…and thankfully we all learn to thicken our skins and deal with lives moments. But yes….maybe we all need to review the do unto others concept once again.
    Sorry so long….the timing of it all just hit me.

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