The art of standing in line

It’s been a long time since my last blog. Life has just been a little too busy. Yesterday morning I found myself waiting in a coffee shop near to my home – I was waiting for a friend, when I noticed a scene unfolding at the bank cash-point just across the road.

Two women arrived at about the same time to withdraw some cash. The first of them was carrying several bags, wearing a heavy coat and clearly not yet ready to proceed with her transaction. The second was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans with her purse in hand and appeared to be ready to just get on with things.

In the event, it was the lady wearing the heavy coat who reached the cash-point first. She stood in front of it, juggling with her various bags, feeling around in the pockets of her coat and trying to locate a bank card. This took a while – so long in fact that the lady behind her was clearly getting frustrated, but was discreet enough to keep it from the woman struggling in front of her. Eventually, she left the queue and walked to another cash-point at another bank about 50 yards down the road. She wasn’t there very long, because that particular cash-point was out of order! As she walked back to the original cash-point, where the other lady was still attempting to withdraw some funds, another person joined the queue before she could get back to it!  Now it was going to take even longer!

By now I was feeling quite sorry for the lady in the T-shirt. The whole time that she had been waiting she had tried not to show her impatience to the lady in front of her. And during that time, the first lady had shown absolutely no awareness of the inconvenience that her delay was causing anyone else.

I found myself reflecting on the situation of these three people. One person who could of been aware of someone else’s needs and put them first, but didn’t; another who, despite the inconvenience to herself, went out of her way not to embarrass the other; and the third person who was naturally completely oblivious to the little cameo that had just unfolded.

As we go about our business each day it is all too easy, amongst the crowds and the many things we have on our minds, not to notice how your actions affect other people; too easy to miss the little opportunities that are often in front of us to show kindness, patience and empathy for another human being. Sometimes kindness comes from simply opening our eyes to the needs of others.

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