Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The golden rule

My faith in humanity is somewhat restored.  Not because the bailout was voted out but because of something that happened in the car line yesterday.
I have a pet peeve.  Actually, I have several, but one of them is people cutting in front of me while driving.  I noticed it all the time in the mornings last year dropping Monkey off at school.  Some parent would be late for work, I'm guessing, so they're in such a hurry they feel they have the right to cut in line.  I don't mean just cutting in front of me when I let the person in front of them in, although that bothers me, too, but cutting through the staff parking lot to get towards the front of the line.  I mean, all the rest of us have to wait to meander through the line, what makes you so special that you can bypass all the other parents waiting in line?
Whenever that happened last year, I made a point to NOT let that person in if I happened to be near where they would be trying to get in line.  Unfortunately, at 7:20 am, there are people nicer than me that would let that better-than-thou parent through the line and their shortcut would then be justified because they made it through the line before everyone else.  We're all adults, here, right?  If you're running that late then maybe, just maybe, you should get up earlier.  Take some responsibility for your own actions and don't be late.
But I digress.  Yesterday, I got to Monkey's school a little earlier than usual for pickup.  I was the first to show up, so I park in the car line at a spot where I think the first car usually parks.  There was one car that parked right behind me right after and since that mom didn't give me the "why don't you pull ahead" look that people give at the station when you stop at the first pump instead of pulling right through, I figured I was ok.  I needed to pick up something from the office, so I grab Little Man and walk in.  I was inside for about five minutes and when I went back out, there were about 4 or 5 cars behind me and one in front of me.  Not farther in front, like they were parking to get something then leaving, but you could tell they passed the other cars, pulled in, then backed up to park in front of me.  The driver was still in the car, so I knew they were there for the pick up line.
I really don't care if I'm the first one or not.  I'm usually in the first 10-20 cars because I get there early enough to sit in the car and read for about 20-30 minutes before school lets out.  Yesterday's timing was a fluke.  But it bothered me to no end that someone had the gall to pass other parked cars to position himself as the first car.  However, I try and let it go and enjoy my quiet 30 minutes before dismissal (Little Man often naps in the car while we wait).
After a while, though, just a little before dismissal, he starts his car, drives to the end of the circle, parks and walks up to get his child.  Huh?  After all that work of parking at the head of the line, now you're walking up to get your kid?  I don't get it.  Oh, just so you know, dear reader, I don't leave my car running while waiting in the car line - another pet peeve of mine.  No matter how hot, I'll turn off the motor, roll the windows down and open a door.  So, I notice this dad walking towards my passenger side window.  He comes up to me and apologizes for parking in front of the line!  
Graciously, because I'm a good southern gal and all that, I tell him how nice that is and he really didn't have to and all that.  He says that he didn't know I was waiting in the car line (I wasn't in the car when he arrived, remember?) but when he saw me come out with Little Man and wait, he realized that he had cut the line and so wanted to apologize to me because he doesn't want to do things that would bother him if someone had done the same to him.  You know, that golden rule?
Really.  This truly happened.  A total stranger apologized for cutting me off.  Granted, we were in parked cars so it's not like we were passing through an intersection where there's no opportunity for apologies, but the fact that he took the time to apologize shattered some pre-conceived notions I had built about his character (he was driving a really big fancy SUV and  chatting away on his cell when I walked out of the school.  Yes, I'm guilty of stereotyping.  Who isn't?).
My faith in humanity is somewhat restored.  And it begs the question, when was the last time you took ownership of a wrong you committed, whether perceived or actual?  Is there something for which or someone to whom you need to apologize?  Is there someone or something you need to forgive?  We all do, don't we?  
Restore someone else's faith in humanity today.


Anonymous said...

You sound just like my Dad. He had zero tolerance for tardiness. I can hear him now:"I have no respect for a man who cannot keep his word. If you say that you will be somewhere at a certain time and then show up late, you are breaking you word." He was also a firm beliver in "The Golden Rule". He would approve of your essay.

Rosie : ) said...

It isn't quite the same, but recently I was in the grocery store line, with 2 of the children, and a *full* shopping cart of groceries. I think the cashier was being trained, because she took forever to pass my groceries through the scanner. The baby was flipping out, my daughter kept trying to run away, so I was very flustered and feeling like a bad Mom while buying the groceries.

The guy behind me in line was a young teenager {maybe 15-16}, who had three items in his hand. He had to wait a very long time to pay for his 3 items. I felt so bad about it, and just as I turn towards him to apologize for my running after the kids and searching for my wallet in the multitude of grocery bags, he looks at me and says: "Can I help you bring any of that to your car?" in the sweetest voice. My apology died as I stood there flabbergasted. It was very eye-opening to see a teenager have patience and kindness oozing from his pores. Stereotyping can really make you feel like crap. :)

Maybe it didn't restore my faith in humanity, but it did restore my faith in teenagers, who will be the new face of humanity soon enough.

Kool Aid said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Rosie. I've been in your spot before and I usually just get the "come ON, lady" look. Instances like that give me hope for the next generation and I only hope that my kids will be as well mannered.