Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store and the checker is a little slower than you’d like? You’re in a hurry. You’re meeting a friend for the matinee showing of the latest Harry Potter movie, and now you’re going to be late. To make matters worse, the elderly woman in front of you insists on paying with way too many coins. She is short three pennies and she has to dig in her purse some more. Now she’s lost count and has to start all over again. Frustrating isn’t it?
It is finally your turn. You pay for the candy bars and chips you are going to sneak into the theater. There is no way you are going to pay those high prices the theater charges when your purse is big enough to hide a gallon of milk. You walk out the door and head to your car. Another shopper has left their cart in front of your vehicle and now you have to take the time to move it. Seriously? Why would they do that?
You get stuck in traffic and the man in the blue car wants to get over. You see his blinker but you think, “No way I’m letting you in. I’m in a hurry, besides, I was here first.” He cuts you off. You are sooo angry, you raise your fist and say a few words you know you probably shouldn’t, which he can’t hear anyway.
You finally get there, pay for your tickets and enter the theater just as the credits are beginning. You knew you were going to be late. You’re frustrated and it takes all 6 previews to calm you down enough to really enjoy Harry, Ron and Hermione.
You know what irks me about all of this? That we as humans are arrogant enough to think that it’s all about us. We deserve for things to go our way and when they don’t, we often believe that the world as we know it is going to come to an end.
Let’s go back and break down the scenario. Let’s make it about them and not us.
The slow checker just found out her child has leukemia, but yet she was at work because she can’t afford not to be. She’d rather be home playing with that child who may not see his 10th birthday. She took an extra 15 seconds to ring up each order.
The old lady who counted out her change had just lost her husband of 57 years. Where once her days were filled with the joy of waking every morning to the smiling face of her Joe, now they were filled with emptiness and sadness. It took her 15 seconds to count out that change.
It took you fifteen seconds to move the shopping cart that was left behind because the two year old stood up in the seat and fell, splitting her lip open. Mom had to rush her for stitches.
And that man who cut you off on the freeway? His wife had been in a terrible car accident. He may only have a few minutes to say his goodbyes.
So all of these things that interfered with your life took a total of one full minute away from the goings on at Hogwarts Academy. But even if it made you ten minutes late. So what?
What can we really do in 15 seconds?
In 15 seconds, you can:
Pour yourself a cup of coffee
Turn on the hot water for your morning shower
Kiss your children or grandchildren goodnight
Wave to a neighbor
Get the mail
Put away the leftovers for lunch tomorrow
Put the clothes in the dryer
With 15 seconds, you can be a change in the world. All it takes in one thing. One 15 second event that can help to change the lives of hundreds of people.
That’s all it takes.
When you smile at the slow checker, it lets her know she’s doing a great job.
When you smile at the old lady who is having trouble counting out change, you are letting her know she matters and she’s not alone.
When you smile at the man who just cut you off in traffic, you are letting him know that what is going on in his life is important.
Smile at the homeless person on the corner.
You never know. That smile, that moment of acknowledgement may mean the difference between being homeless for another year or having the courage to take the next step to get the help he needs to start over again.
There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year. Life is too short to worry about 15 of them.