Suzette Martinez Standring: Grace in a slice of humble pie
My daughter said to me, “Did you have a scoop of ice cream with that humble pie? Even I can taste it!” Everywhere are reminders for grace, goodwill, and peace. It’s also the season for short fuses, and my angel wings continue to elude me, Clarence.
So there I am in a long line waiting to talk to one of only two customer service clerks at a mega-store. Correction: One clerk, because a “Chatty Cathy” is talking non-stop to the other one.
Finally, I’m next and the loquacious lady is still regaling the clerk with her life story. From what I overhear she’s not working out a problem, she’s just making conversation and repeating herself.
Excuse me, but I’ve got shrimp defrosting in my cart, so I lose it and say,“THERE ARE PEOPLE IN LINE HERE!” Ms. Talkative turns to me, clueless that 12 people have been served by the one other clerk, while she hogs the counter. She’s startled and I remark on her surprise, “Wow, really?” She skulks away and now the clerk is giving ME the stink-eye.
Anyone to whom I tell the story is on my side. She was insensitive. Nobody’s got time for that. Even my daughter said, “I bet other people were relieved you spoke up.” (Actually, no applause was forthcoming. Surprising, really.)
My friend, Marina, had a different take. “Maybe she doesn’t have anyone to talk to, and that was a rare chance for her to be heard.”
I squirmed, “What? At the customer service line at BJ’s?”
“Suzette, you’re so lucky. You have a close family and lots of friends. Maybe she doesn’t have anyone to listen to her.”
Marina continued, “What about that passage from Luke 12:48, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’”
Cutting others slack is a new way of looking at that passage. I always thought it referred to charitable giving, as in the more you have, the more you should give to others.
But I’m not off the hook so easily. It’s about mindful gratitude about my own blessings. Having patience with others because I can’t possibly know what’s going on in their lives. Stop thinking my time is so all-important that I’ve got license to bark, honk, or get pushy.
My angel wings still elude me, Clarence, but I’m trying. Yesterday I got stuck behind a coupon-clipping lady who needed two price checks, and then forgot to pay for a item left behind her cart. She looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry.” I replied, “I’ve starred in that same movie. No worries. Have a Merry Christmas!” We shared a smile.
Get out the ice cream scoop. An occasional serving of humble pie can be nutritious.
— Email Suzette Standring: email@example.com or visit www.readsuzette.com. The award-winning author writes for The Patriot Ledger and is syndicated through GateHouse Media.