Living in Love Award: Submission: Walking the Walk

The first step to earning the Living in Love award is producing one Random Act of Kindness and blogging about it. Congratulations, Lesley, you have completed the first stage. I look forward to the rest of your submissions.

Walking the Walk.

Call me a crazy hippie, but I think a large part of living a sustainable life is living in a Peaceful and Loving manner. Hear me out. Sustainability, to me, is not just about being ecological, green (whatever that trendy term means nowadays) and frugal, it’s also about human beings existing in a unified and peaceful state. Human kind will never be sustainable if Peace is not achieved.

I’ve been spending a lot of time inside my own head lately, meditating on how to create Peace and Love within myself, and how to best go about spreading it to others. You can’t force ideals onto somebody else, it just doesn’t work. Everyone has to come to a position of Peace in their own time. So if you can’t sit someone down and tell them (in a know-it-all manner, of course) that they must be Peaceful and they simply have to Love and Respect everyone, how on earth can you get others to live in Peace?

 

I could have meditated for years on that question, but something happened today that showed me the answer in a way that made it crystal clear that I am on the right path to creating a more Peace filled existence. I was in the Supermarket (I know, not local, and definitely not a sustainable place to shop. Not a heck of a lot of options in my town however, so I deal) and there were lines for days. Now, being the stealthy supermarket shopper that I am, I was easily able to seek out the line with the shortest wait time. You can’t just avoid the cashiers with the longest lines, that’s a rookie mistake. It’s what’s in the carts that count. Sure, lane 6 may only have three people in line, but they’re all buying groceries (read: a whole bunch of tiny items). Lane 7, on the other hand, has 9 people in line, but with an average of only three to four large items in their carts. That’s my line.

So, there I stand, patiently waiting my turn (and unabashedly skimming the trashy magazines), when customer #3 in Lane 6 starts getting impatient. No fireworks, just cursing not quite under his breath about the wait time. My line moves ahead and I put my two items on the conveyor belt. #3 loses it.

“I swear to God, if one more person gets to check out before I do I’m gonna– Hey, you!” He gestures to the manager to come over and approaches her in a very aggressive demeanor. He leans over her, puts his finger to her chest and says, in a not so quiet voice “Don’t you idiots know how to train your employees here? First come, first serve, that’s the fair way to wait on customers. This cashier must be slow,if you know what I mean, because that line’s going 100 times faster than this one. I’ve been waiting here forever and I want to be waited on NOW!”

Now, I’m not sure how the manager responded, because she some how managed to stay patient, calm and most importantly, quiet. Ido know how #3 responded, though, because he was not as quiet.

“This is ridiculous. She (offensive finger jabbed in my direction) got here TEN minutes after me and she’s ready to check out now…”

You get the idea. He went on, and on…. and on. I won’t go on, there was much more cursing involved and even I was offended by the end, and I’ve got the mouth of a sailor. He finally settled down when he got to the front of the line. Now, it’s one thing to yell at a manager, they expect that as part of their job, but it’s a completely different story when you get ranty with a cashier. They say shit rolls downhill, and these poor people work in the crotch of two mountains. The pay is crap, the hours are terrible, and their employers have no respect or affection for them. You never, I repeat, NEVER, do anything to make these people’s work lives any shittier than they already are. If anything, you should go out of your way to be the best customer they’ve ever had.

I guess someone forgot to impart that bit of wisdom to this “gentleman”, because even though he’d already verbally bitch slapped lodged his complaint with the manager, he still felt compelled to call the cashier a retard  vocalize his opinion at the register. To say the least, he was not polite.

Now, like many of you, my gut reaction was to approach this man and chastise him about his rudeness. Actually, chastise isn’t a strong enough verb. I wanted to teach him a lesson. I wanted to, boy did I want to, but I bit my tongue, and the reasoning behind my decision isn’t actually very complex. What good would it do? None. Would he see the error of his ways and repent? Probably not. Would he get defensive, and possibly spew his hate all over me? Almost certainly.

Also, I have no idea what his life is like. He could have had a terrible day. He may also have a thankless job, or a frustrating relationship, or maybe he’s in physical pain. Anything could be contributing to his foul mood. It’s not an excuse for him to treat other human beings with anything less than dignity and respect, but I certainly don’t want to be someone that adds to his misery.

So, I didn’t approach him. I didn’t sit back and do nothing, however, because I couldn’t have lived with myself. I checked out, gathered my bags and waited patiently for #3 to finish his transaction and be on his way. At this point, I approached his cashier and offered her some kindness. I told her she was doing a great job, commended her on his patience and thanked her for her services.  I didn’t focus on the negative situation that had just passed, it happened, there was nothing I could do to change it. Instead, I focused on trying to make her day a little better.

And that’s really all we can do. We can’t change other people, and we can’t control how they act, we can only control ourselves. Imagine a world where everyone tried to make sure that everyone around them had good days. No need for grand gestures, no sweeping acts of generosity, just one simple act of kindness every day. It would certainly get our world one step closer to being a world of Peace and Love.

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