I was brought down to earth with a very big bang this week.
Not before time, either, members of my family might well add :-)
After my youngest daughter and I had finished her session at playgroup on Tuesday, we went to the supermarket to replenish the foodstocks which my four hungry children had majorly depleted since the last food shop on Friday........
For a change, I seemed to have won the eternal lottery of picking the right supermarket checkout in which to queue. Things were going well, D4 was behaving well and I was thinking that we were just going to be in time to walk slowly to the bus stop to catch our bus home, laden with shopping, when BAM !
The elderly gentleman in front of me was slowly packing his groceries into plastic bags. No problem about that. When the cashier told him how much he needed to pay, he took out his wallet very slowly , turned to our queue, smiled and said loudly to the cashier,
"Now I am going to make you all wait !"
I was really surprised, as I didn`t think I was looking impatient. He went on to tell the cashier that he had been at a shop the previous day, and had been hurried by staff and waiting customers, with the result that as he was trying to put his wallet away, he dropped it and all his money, credit and debit cards came out.
He ended with the line "And because of that, I decided I wasn`t going to let anyone rush me again and risk losing my money. And so you can all wait while I take my time ! "
My first reaction ?
Shoot, I`m going to miss my bus, and then we will have to hang around on a bitterly cold day, laden with shopping, for half an hour.
My second reaction ?
Miserable old codger, why does he think he has the right to take out his prior bad experience on the rest of us, who have done nothing to him? It`s not fair :-(
And he`s going to make us miss our bus....
I kept my mouth shut, tried very hard not to keep looking at the clock on the wall, and rushed my transaction through as quickly as possible.
We strode purposefully to the bus stop, to see a queue of people and no bus.
Either the bus is late, or we have missed it and this queue is for the next bus to a different destination, which just happens to share the same bus stop.........
I stood there, quietly fuming, and blaming the old man for making me miss the bus.
I had to wait for all of ten minutes, and then the right bus pulls up at the stop and we get on gratefully.
Once I got home, I had to pass the icon corner to get to the kitchen (Yes, there *is* method in my madness !) and I got to thinking about my encounter with the old man.
I had fretted and fumed and maligned this old man in my heart, blaming him for daring to make me miss my bus, as though I was more important than he was - which of course I am not.
And of course, I had not even missed the bus anyway.
Just who did - and do - I think I am , anyway ?
Would it have been such a hardship to have missed a bus, if it had enabled a vulnerable elderly gentleman to finish his shopping with his wallet, money, cards and pride intact, instead of him feeling anxious, worried and flustered ?
My sense of self-importance, convenience and my wishes have become a petty demi-god, colouring my attitude to those around me, and it is high time that I was brought to earth with a bump.
I will remember that elderly man in my prayers :-)
And I thank God for the closeness of Forgiveness Sunday and Great Lent, when the things that are truly important come into sharp focus...... I just wish I could ask that man`s forgiveness for my harsh thoughts about him :-(