We were in the freezer section at Wal-Mart. While I was looking for the spinach, Charlie had noticed the gears and levers on a scooter that rolled by. Hmm. A video game here in the freezer aisle? I must check this out. And so he did. He climbed up on the running board and reach over to work a few levers. The “nice" lady looked like she would like to run him down.
“I’m sorry m’am. My little guy thinks you're driving a rolling arcade.” I smiled my most winning smile. Charlie grinned.
"Hmmph!" The scooter occupant glared and sped ahead to the frozen dinners.
Whoops. I guess we need to add that to our list of shopping behavior:
1. Put your hand on the hood of the car while you are waiting for everyone to get out.
2. Don’t climb the toilet paper display
3. Don’t play on occupied mobility scooters.
(Charlie's list of grocery store ettiquette is so different from the rules that that I created for the other four kids.)
We wheeled our carts to the checkout counter and an older cashier greeted us with a friendly smile. “How ya’ll doin’ today?”
The girls and I unloaded groceries while the cashier looked on with approval at my helpful girls. Charlie found a toy cell phone and began to push the buttons.
“Charlie, do you want me to get that phone for you?” I am always looking for ways to unplug his video addiction and develop his creativity. A cell phone seemed like the perfect thing.
“Yeah, Mama!” He rushed over to the counter and held it out for the cashier to ring it up for him. He waited patiently but the woman was intent on finding the number for the cantaloupe. Her smile had vanished.
“Wait a minute, Charlie. Wait ‘til she’s done with the cantaloupe.”
He waited. And waited. And waited. For after the cashier scanned the cantaloupe, she continued to scan everything on the counter.
“Put it on the counter. I’ll get to it.”
That wasn’t very nice.
At the car, I lifted Charlie to his seat. He pinched my face. “Does that hurt, Mama?”
“No Charlie, that doesn’t hurt.”
He squeezed harder. “Does that hurt?”
“Yes that hurts. It’s not nice to hurt people.”
“Oh. Does this hurt?”
On the drive home I thought about what it means to be nice, to put people before accomplishments, before chores, before self. I thought about the times when I’m not nice. I’m never nice on the phone when I’m dealing with some push-button customer service representative. I’m not nice after an hour in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I’m not nice when I have to fill out fifty pages (I'm not exaggerating) of information for my children to have their teeth cleaned. I’m self-righteous and arrogant. “What do you mean you need my kids' social security numbers? They don't want to operate the x-ray machine! They just need their teeth brushed!” GRR!
And when I got home I opened my e-mail and found this
from Christine at Fruit in Season. She thinks I’m nice. Ha! This is because she doesn't work for Verizon. Well, I am nice here. Here behind my keyboard. I use the backspace button quite a bit to delete those sentences that have too much zing. Thank goodness for the backspace key. I wish real life came with backspace. Christine is a great encourager and a fellow sojourner on the quest for humility, the key ingredient for NICE. She inspired me to be nice for the whole rest of the day.
The great thing about being a Nice Matters recipient is that I get to pass it on. I have been meeting all kinds of bloggers these days, women who encourage me with kind words on my blog and encouraging posts on their own.
I choose to pass this award on to:
Melissa at Breath of Life.
Faith at The Great Adventure
Jennifer at Gathering Grace
Lori at I Will Take it Lord, All You Have to Give
You all write in a way that makes me feel like I am sitting with you over a cup of coffee. (Or since it’s still close to 100 here, maybe a tall glass of iced tea.) Thanks for your friendship. It matters.