Curbside Service – Curt or Kind?
“What year is your Cadillac,” he asked curiously.
“Umm, I’m not really sure. Would you believe it was a gift!” I said politely, albeit preoccupied while attempting to place my sandwich order in the line at Subway.
Undeterred, he continued, “Well, you know next year they’re coming out with flashers.”
“You know, flashers, like the ones you don’t have on right now.”
His words hung in the air somewhere between “sure, I’d like that toasted,” and “add extra mayo.” In that split second, I realized he wasn’t just interested in my car. He was annoyed.
“These three senior citizens had to walk around your car parked there on the curb and step up because you’re blocking the entrance.”
The three senior citizens he was referring to were himself and two ladies, looking graciously uncomfortable.
I’ve frequented the Subway – just a half-mile down from the church where I work -countless times, not once parking by the door. But today, I dashed in to grab a quick sandwich to take back with me while I worked on a project. Phone in one hand and wallet in the other, I was a woman on a mission and, well, the curb just seemed a whole lot quicker.
I felt my face flush and my mind race to a myriad of responses. And I’ll be honest. I’m ashamed to say that my response might normally be slightly dismissive and annoyed right back at ya, there guy.
And then, I thought of my parents.
My 75 year-old-parents who just drove halfway across the country to spend six days with us. We took in “JESUS” at Sight and Sound Theatre and braved the DC traffic to tour The Museum of the Bible. They helped me rush around making last-minute preparations for my son’s graduation party and cheered on my daughter’s musical theatre performance. They poured their time and talents into a night of music featuring the songs of Fanny Crosby to bless our church. They traversed steps and stores. And when, on a whim, I got us tickets to the Washington Nationals Game after we finished at the Museum, my dad walked around the entire stadium to park the car.
Somehow, all of that squeezed into that split second following the elderly man’s mild but intentional public scolding. And, instead of opting for curt, I reached for kind.
It’s no accident that I just finished reading “Kind is the New Classy,” by Candace Cameron Bure. I’m chagrined to admit that – far too many times – my determination, drive, and deadlines steamroll right over kindness. But I don’t want people to just call me “strong,” or “smart.” I want them to call me “kind.” Candace put her finger on one of the misnomers about kindness: kindness isn’t weakness.
In fact, choosing kind takes a whole lotta strength and self-control. It also takes something that is painfully disappearing from our culture: honor.
Kindness says, “I choose to put you first. I choose to set aside my pride, my distraction, and my rush, and opt for kind over curt. I choose – out of all my potential responses – to honor you.”
And let me tell you something. Reaching for kind was the best moment of my day.
“Oh my goodness,” I responded, gently putting my arm on one of the woman’s shoulders. “I’m so sorry! I was rushing from work and just didn’t even think of how inconsiderate that was. My parents are in their 70’s and I sure wouldn’t want someone to do that to them.”
His demeanor changed. “Where do you work?” he asked.
“Right down the street at a church. I come here all the time and I just feel awful about parking there.”
“Oh, it’s okay,” he said, his face softening. “Just don’t do it again,” he reprimanded, with a twinkle in his eye.
Ouch. But I resolved that honor would win. Kind was going to win.
“I sure won’t,” I smiled back.
I moved to the cashier and spoke in hushed tones. “Have they finished their order?”
“No,” she whispered back.
“I’m just going to fiddle here a second until they’re done, and you can add their order to mine.”
That was the best $20 I’ve spent in a long time, let me tell you. And on the way out, I patted the man on the back and said quietly, “Lunch is on me today. It’s the least I can do. And I hope it’s what someone would do for my parents.”
For a moment I think he was mortified, and then a wave of appreciation washed over his countenance. “Oh thank you, you sure didn’t need to do that.” He pulled me aside and gave me a hug. “But please know that these three travelers from West Virginia sure are thankful.”
We choose kind over curt, one, small decision at a time.
“Honor” is defined as a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction. Honor acts.
- You can create a culture of honor by choosing kind over curt.
- You can create a culture of honor by refusing to argue and resolving to elevate. You don’t have to agree with someone to honor them.
- You can create a culture of honor one, small decision at a time.
I’ll have moments, I’m sure, where I’ll fail miserably at my quest for choosing kind. But not today. Today, I got a necessary lesson in awareness of how my actions affect others and passed my test in kindness with flying colors.
Choose honor. Choose kind.
“Make Your Life Matter No Matter What”