I feel like this situation happens just about every day.
I’m giving a party, and I’m at the local gourmet food store, ready to pay too much, and naturally I’m late for a meeting way across town. Actually, I this is my lucky day: I’m using a gift card, so the bill is no skin off my nose.
Right now, at this crucial (to me) moment, the register decides to start having problems. I can’t just dump my stuff and leave to get to my meeting on time, because I’ve put in a special order and have to pay for it now in order to pick it up later. I’m stuck.
I’ve been on the other side of a cash register. I’ve seen the likes of me, steaming. So I counted to ten – one of life’s most useful bromides – and kept my pie hole shut for once. I also willed myself not to fidget, a superhuman feat on my part. This particular store always has long lines, but also about the fastest checkout I’ve ever seen. So I know it’s the machine, not the person. Of course I want to tell her to hurry up, but I also know there’s nothing she can do: the damn thing is on the fritz. Not that there haven’t been about a billion times I’ve barked at someone anyway. But maybe, today, I won’t.
How long did I have to wait — 45 seconds? Two minutes? Did it make absolutely any difference in the way my day went? No, not a jot. Did I feel better for not having been a jerk? Yup. Did she feel better for not having me snap at her? You bet she did.
It’s about the simplest advice in the world to give, and the hardest to keep: