Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kindness Pays

Imagine that it's 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the last day of the month--July 31st for instance. The license bureau is full of procrastinators (like every other month) and you are one of the unfortunate workers that has to endure this monthly ritual. Now, with just a couple of hours left in the longest day of the month, an elderly man comes to renew his driver's license. He is a bit hunched forward but nicely dressed; short sleeved white shirt that is crisply pressed, glasses, a nice tie and dress slacks. You escort him over to the machine to have his eyes examined and here is where the difficulty begins.

I saw this take place just a few moments ago. Chris always thinks that I put things off until the last possible moment and I had two hours to spare--or so I thought. Anyways, the woman that was helping this elderly man exhibited an incredible amount of patience and kindness. I'm not sure if he couldn't understand what he was supposed to be reading or if he couldn't read it. In any case, with lots of people waiting, this woman spoke kindly to him, took her time, explained over and over what she wanted him to do, helped him recognize the row she wanted him to read by turning the light on and off for those letters and let him try again and again before asking him when the last time he had been to the eye doctor and suggesting that he make an appointment. I felt bad for him as he and his wife left (I'm not sure who was driving). Being restricted to home while you wait for somebody else to drive you to a place that you want to go is not a day that I am looking forward to. I know, I know...there comes a point when it isn't safe for some people to be driving, but at least this man was treated with respect and dignity in the process.

As she finished with him, I was called (after a 30 minute wait) to another window. I presented all of the proper documents...or so I thought. The insurance card that I had expired two weeks ago! I was going to have to go home to find the new one! Oh well. At least I hadn't waited 'til the last minute. I still had plenty of time. On the way out, I stopped to tell that woman how much I appreciated the kindness and patience that she used in waiting on the old man.

I hurried home, found what I was looking for, traded cars so that Hannah could take my car (with a copy of the current insurance card) to drum lessons, and headed back to the license bureau for another wait. I walked into a room that was even more crowded than before and was going to take a number and begin another wait. The woman that had started to wait on me saw me walk in. The woman that had waited on the old man was next to her and just finishing up with a customer. After a quick word between the two I was signaled to come forward. I knew that this had been a long day for them and told them how much I appreciated them taking care of me. I also thought that I was glad that I hadn't reacted badly to having the wrong papers in the first place and was pleasant (to both of them) on my first visit. I'm not sure what the people that had been waiting thought as I walked in the door and right to the counter (I had been gone about 30 minutes). I hope that they also treated these ladies with kindness and good manners.

As a rule, I believe that good manners and patience are becoming a bit less common in our society. It's partly because we're always in a hurry and thinking about our schedule and partly because we haven't taken the time to teach good manners and the value of good manners to our kids. We've forgotten to treat people the way that we would like to be treated.

You know..."Do unto others..."

So a big thanks to the ladies at the license bureau on the square in Ozark. Thanks from me...for now and also for when I'm old. Your kindness has been duly noted.


1 comment:

Mike said...

You have single handedly destroyed the phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished".
That is unless something really big is building up in the background for you. You had better start back with daily posts to let us know if your OK.
See, it's starting. Somebody wants daily posts. What's next?