Count To 100
Somewhere once I read that Thomas Jefferson had advised that before replying in anger one should "always count to 10, and if very mad, count to 100".
Recently as I was taking my place in the stands for a show at Sea World I overheard a young women with two small kids two rows behind me being politely asked to scoot down in her row. She simply looked at the dark haired, bearded man with his two kids and said "no, I won't and why don't you just take those two kids and go back to your own country". It was kind of like going to a funeral and trying to ignore an open casket, you want to turn away, but feel compelled to turn and look. When I looked I saw a middle eastern man whose face was morphing from frustration into anger. He simply took a kid in each hand and moved on.
The defiant blond woman who raged at him, just smiled at her kids and said "like I'm gonna move for him!"
As I turned away and I reflected on the heartbreaking lesson four kids had just learned, I was overcome by sadness.
When I travel I am constantly amazed at the little kindnesses shown me when I am obviously lost and befuddled. I worry about the message we as Americans convey to the world's visitors when they come here.
On a recent trip as I walked through O'Hare airport I turned to go down a side corridor to go to a restroom only to find a woman by the phones crying. Her clothing made it clear she was an international traveler. When I came back, she was still there. My first inclination would normally be to respect her private moment of sadness. After the events at Sea World, I thought about it, and decided instead to stop and ask her if she needed anything. She looked at me and I"m not sure she understood exactly what I was asking. But judging from the expression I got, she clearly understood what my heart was saying. She nodded a slow no and we sheepishly traded somewhat awkward smiles. It took less than a minute.
The act seemed entirely appropriate as we enter a season celebrating the birth of the one who instructed us to simply "love one another".
I believe we can overcome a lot just by being kinder to each other. The alternative is to become that very bitter woman who will eventually be sitting in a row all by herself at Sea World.
Roadboys Travels © 2008