Friday, March 19, 2010

Appearances, Judgement and Book Preview

A woman stood in front of me at the check-out queue yesterday. She was maybe mid to late thirties. She had a boy of about eight or nine with her. She was not engaging with him particularly. He appeared bored.

She had placed her shopping on the conveyor but not the marker (what is that thing called?) to separate her shopping from the next customer's (mine). She stood in the wrong place so I couldn't easily start unloading my shopping.

'That is a selfish woman' I said to myself. She had given me three examples of it already. I found myself praying for her.

She had brought no bags with her (4). I followed her out (coincidentally, I'm not a stalker) and she was driving a huge gas-guzzler (5).

We pulled out of our spaces at the same time. She drove too fast across the car park (6).

My prejudices affirmed totally.

I recalled I had written this earlier in the week under the heading 'murder.'

... to observe the aggressive, angry, frustrated people we encounter day by day there must be something tragically wrong. Why do we become so intolerant when we get behind the wheel of a car or the guidance system of a supermarket trolley? Do people genuinely think that 'me first' is a more reliable route to a happy life than 'after you?' You would think that 'You shall not murder' had become the only rule with all steps stopping short of it being acceptable.

People tell me I am a patient person. I have many faults but I do manage to stay calm and not rush things by and large. The opposite of patience is not impatience but anger.

At a large supermarket in Arnold in Nottingham the car park, in the 1980s was roof-top. It was above the store. One had no idea how full the car park was without driving up the ramp to find out. The biggest frustration of my life was when, doing the weekly shop, I drove up the ramp in a procession of cars only to discover that it had become full and the queue of traffic to get in now reached back to the ramp. The ramp was too narrow to allow a u-turn so if there was a car behind there was no alternative. You were there for the duration. You had to wait for a space to appear. This could take a long time. I resolved one day when I was particularly stewed about something that I would simply observe, listen and enjoy my car radio, or the space to think. I can't begin to explain how many ideas for sermons I had from that day on in the queue. Problems got solved. Projects were hatched. My blood pressure went down.

There have been several changes in my life since then one of which is to shop daily rather than weekly and to do it on foot if at all possible. That way I maximise the number of people I bump into. It is better pastorally. But it is wonderful to enjoy thinking time provided by a late visitor, a traffic jam or a delayed train. You can't do anything about it so why not settle down into it. Certainly don't harbour resentment against someone who jumps the queue. Let them in with a cheerful wave, pray for them and give thanks for your more enlightened approach to life.

I don't always take my own advice. But I try to.

1 comment:

Caroline Too said...

:-) thanks for these stories