Several years ago, some dear friends of mine, Michael and Linda, were out shopping when they realized that their automobile was in need of gasoline. As they drove toward the gas station, they found themselves behind a car driven by an elderly woman. She was going very slowly—much too slowly from Michael’s perspective—but there was no place to pass. As a result, Michael drove, albeit somewhat impatiently, behind her.
When they came near the gas station, he hoped she might keep going, but, instead, she too turned in to the station. As she ever so slowly approached the pumps, the woman hesitated, apparently unable to decide which side of the pump to pull toward. When she finally made a decision, she, of course, went to the same side that Michael had wanted. Unfortunately, she parked at such an angle and took up so much room that he was left with no choice but to wait for her to finish.
The woman got out of her car and walked hesitantly toward the pump. She looked at it, then looked toward her car, then back toward the pump. She was clearly confused. Michael was becoming exasperated and muttered something under his breath about hurrying up. I’ll admit that as he shared the story, I could definitely relate to his exasperation. I wanted her to hurry up, and I wasn’t even there.
“Now, honey, you don’t know her situation,” said Linda. “Just be patient. We’re not really in that much of a hurry, are we?”
“Oh, I suppose not,” replied Michael.
“Maybe you should go offer to help her.”
Michael looked wide-eyed at his wife, and then reluctantly got out of the car. As he approached the woman, who still had not even begun to pump her gas, Michael asked if he could help.
The woman was startled, but as she turned toward him, she had tears in her eyes.
“Oh, yes please… would you?” She hesitated just a moment, and then began crying harder. “My husband… just passed away… and I’ve never in my life… had to put gas in the car.”
In that instant the entire scenario changed. This was no longer a major inconvenience, an obstacle that needed to be overcome. It was now a chance to help someone in need, an opportunity to demonstrate kindness.
I pray that this story alters how you deal with people around you today.