About once a month I am presented with the opportunity to go beyond the realm of common courtesy and perform an exceedingly nice act. Loosely presuming basic courtesy is standard among interhabitating humans, for the purposes of this discussion let’s define “common courtesy” as not requiring much personal sacrifice or inconvenience and “exceedingly nice” as actually sacrificing something or experiencing an inconvenience.
Last month it was pouring rain as I pulled up to a popular coffee establishment during morning rush hour. There were several spots open, but only one directly in front of the door of the coffee shop. My indicator signal was on as I was waited for the existing car to exit the spot closest to the door and another car arrived. Although there were still several parking spots in the immediate area, I knew that I had an umbrella and decided to let the newly arrived patron take the more convenient spot.
I was slightly surprised not to receive a courtesy wave or some kind of acknowledgment of my favor to the fellow traveller who in fact did not appear to have an umbrella as he unfolded his 6’+ body from his glaringly orange miniature Porsche. As I ran through puddles getting my hair slightly wet, I thought about the high visibility work meeting I was on my way to and the potential for spilling coffee on myself while juggling an umbrella in addition to the usual paraphernalia.
My fellow traveller arrived at the door just before me and did not greet me nor hold the door open. The line was unusually long that morning. As we stood there next to each other contemplating the 20 or so people in front of us and the tasks of our morning ahead I received a very clear message that the situation needed to be addressed. Typically I would not lower myself to correcting another or acknowledging their poor manners/behavior (I would focus on my own behavior and my own energy), but I could not ignore the importance of this situation in relation to the spiritual growth of both myself and the person in front of me.
I looked up at the seemingly arrogant well dressed man standing in front of me and said in a truly sweet-natured voice and spirit, ‘How interesting that we get to stand next to each other for the next 20 minutes or so. Thank you for your graciousness around the parking spot.’ He replied, “I was there first.”
While it may appear that there was no purpose in the verbal exchange, I know at a heart level that this gentleman will think about his actions at an appropriate moment in time. By addressing the situation at hand in a loving manner, I did much more than give him a parking spot on a rainy day. I took a stand for our spiritual growth.