Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – January 30, 2004
Pass It Along
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – January 30, 2004 – My friend Chris thinks I’m on my way to becoming an ill-tempered, brutal old broad. She has a vision of neighbourhood children skirting around the front of my house saying, “Don’t ever go near there, a weird old lady lives inside with her cat”.
I have a milder, gentler version of myself – but there may be ‘some’ truth to what she says. I make no bones about the fact that I’m frustrated by ill-mannered, stupid and thoughtless people. I’m direct and to the point – possibly more so than most people. However I’ve been known to be kind, generous and understanding.
As to the cat – by then I may have a talking parrot who yells at children through the mail slot. In light of my aforementioned reputation for ‘curmudgeon-like’ behaviour, I thought I’d share a little anecdote from my day with you.
I was on my way to meet a client today and discovered that I had an extra fifteen minutes to spare, so I pulled into the Petro Canada gas station at Bayview Avenue and Moore to fill up my car. As I drove up to the pump a young man who was shovelling slush and snow out of the way of the pumps nodded at me. I thought , “What a yucky job.
It’s cold and miserable out and this guy has to clear dirty snow out of a gas station lot”. I rolled down the window and asked him to fill up the car and check the windshield washer fluid. I added that he needed to be sure that the gas cap was turned three of four times to secure it properly in place, after the tank was filled.
He gave me a smile big enough to melt a young girl’s heart and went about his job. When he finished under the hood, he tapped on my window to say that the washer fluid was okay. Once again that killer smile and terrific, friendly manner.
He went back to the gas pump and I sat and waited for him to finish. He came to get my credit card and as I awaited his return with the receipt I thought to myself, “I’m going to thank him for being so pleasant”. That thought was quickly followed by, “Don’t be an idiot – he doesn’t care what you think”.
Well the kinder, gentler Rosemary won out, and when he returned to my side of the car, I smiled at him and said, “Thank you for being so nice to deal with”. You would have thought he’d just won the lottery. He absolutely beamed, grinning from ear to ear like the proverbial Cheshire cat. He replied, “You are very welcome – thank you for being our customer”.
He waved as I drove away, and I was so touched by that little encounter that I left the gas station wanting to be a better person. Me? If I’d been out there shovelling grey, sloppy slush on a sodding, cold Canadian winter day – a smile would have been out of the question. I thought about how far a seemingly inconsequential human interaction can go – I also ruminated about my future as a cranky old lady with a cat. There may be hope for me yet.
I’m grateful that I crossed paths with that good-natured young man today. It was a lovely lesson in the simplicity of living with grace and the ease with which we can influence one another with just the smallest kindness. If cloning ever becomes an acceptable procedure, then Mr. Petro Canada would be a nice place to start.
So, go ahead, pass along a gesture of good will. You simply have no idea how far it can travel along the human chain in a day, or how much good it can do on the way!