What I learned while standing in line.

I was standing in line at the local post office the other day. Lines there are the norm; its not unusual for them to be 10 or 12 people deep while two postal clerks methodically work their way along, often disappearing into the bowels of the post office for inexplicable periods of time. And the people waiting in line are understandably a disgruntled group, sighing and shuffling and checking their phones, trying to get what should be a simple errand behind them.

As one more customer was called to the counter and the line inched forward, the woman in front of me insisted we trade places and I step up in the line. (Yikes, I thought, was I sighing that loud?) Then she went on to say she was trying to do one good deed, one nice thing, everyday, and this would be it for that day. She said she had started her plan on the day after Christmas and so far had not missed a day.

This, of course, piqued my curiosity.

I asked what kinds of things she had done, and she said some had been really simple, like changing places with me in line. Others were easy, but took a little more time, like driving an acquaintance to a doctor’s appointment. Some had cost a few dollars. She and her husband were traveling over the holidays and when they stopped for gas and some snacks, she gave the clerk a $20 bill, wished her a happy holiday, and told her to keep the change.

Her goal is for others to just pass “one nice thing” along.

Paying it forward is not a new concept. We’ve all heard tales of Starbucks drive-thru customers paying for the coffee in the car behind them, then that driver does the same for the next car in line. And so it goes. It’s a nice story, but even nicer when it moves beyond the line for lattes.

Coincidentally, about a week before my Post Office visit, I ran into the grocery store on my way to a meeting. I grabbed two quick items and made my way to the express lane. (This is so rare for me. Even if I think I’m just getting a few things, I fill a cart and never qualify for the express line.) The woman at the front of the line was going thru her wallet for the second or third time, obviously short of cash. As she got more and more flustered, the man in line behind her passed his credit card to the clerk and said, quietly, just add those items to mine. And without missing a beat, the clerk did just that.

Problem solved.

We all moved on. And my faith in the kindness of strangers was affirmed.

I’ve been thinking about the woman in the Post Office doing one nice thing every day. She made it her goal to do that this year. And then there’s the man in the grocery store; did he do what hopefully any of us would or is he on a mission, too?

What if we all tried to do that? Then I thought maybe a movement is afoot and I’m just learning about it. (I can be pretty dense.) It doesn’t cost much to be nice or to pay it forward. I was contemplating this post (and writing it in my head because that’s often how these things start) and decided that before I went any further, I’d Google this concept. Wow! There are books, lists, posters, calendars, meditations, and, of course, the Boy Scout slogan, “Do a good turn daily.” In Chicago there is an organization, https://onegooddeedchicago.org.

Good deeds from the heart not the calendar

These are all good things, but not what I had in mind. I’m not thinking about something so organized, but something more organic. I’m thinking we all need to be just a little nicer, and hope it rubs off on others. I’m not promising to do one good thing every day and I’m certainly not going to write them on a calendar, but I am going to try to be more aware of opportunities to act more positively and then do it.

So, if a short, chubby lady from Chicago gives you her place in line, it might be me!

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!

4 thoughts on “What I learned while standing in line.

  1. What a great post! Last week, I let a policeman get in front of me because he was only buying batteries. He thanked me and I told him if we ever meet again and I’m behind the wheel to remember how nice I was. That goes under the heading “good deed with an ulterior motive.” I’ll keep you posted on my traffic stops. Have a great week.!


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