The time was nine p.m. Five a.m., the hour I woke up to go with my husband to sit with a family during a surgery seemed like eons ago. After a second hospital visit for another church member, a lengthy to-do list of household and writing details, and a wait of two extra hours to pick up my mother and sister from the Quad Cities airport, we still had miles and hours to go before we arrived home. At one point, my husband muttered, “It would be nice if something went right today.” His comment held due cause. What jack really needed was an act of offensive kindness.
As we left the airport parking lot, Jack pulled the car to a stop in front of the ticket booth.
“Good evening!” The attendant’s voice was so chipper, I thought she had her days and nights mixed up. Either that or she had an addiction to Mountain Dew.
She asked my husband if he wanted a receipt.
“No problem.” The level of joy and kindness never diminished.
The blunt observation didn’t faze the attendant one bit. “I realize people coming up to my booth are tired people (she got that right), so I try to be as nice as I can.”
Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a wonderful attitude.
It made us think of the medical staff in hospitals and nursing homes who work tirelessly in spite of dealing with grumpy, tired, pain-filled people. It made me think of a physical therapist who, after a patient apologized for lashing out with foul language, said, “You’re allowed to be grumpy here.”
I don’t know about you but I tend to back pedal when tired, grumpy people enter my sphere. I get quiet and just let them have their space. All too often, I react with resentment and judgement, thinking they ought to be able to cope better with their fatigue, stress, or pain.
Not this lady. She went on the offensive. She was bound and determined to be nice to people because they were tired. I know the effect that had on my family. She had no clue of how hard our day had been. It didn’t matter. We needed a touch of nice and she delivered.
Proverbs 16:24 says,
“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 17:22 says,
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
I would agree. We rode away, feeling strengthened to meet the challenges of the journey home. Her offensive kindness was like a taste of honey on an otherwise sour kind of day. I felt encouraged to pass kindness forward to the weary travelers in my life. That’s the effect of paying grace forward. It encourages others to “go and do likewise.”
That’s why one unnamed parking attendant at the Quad Cities Airport gets my “Caught Being Good” award.
Who in your life needs a touch of nice?