Yesterday I walked to my neighborhood post office with a few dozen packages of books to be mailed.
Our regular post office workers were all there including Tommy, a pleasant older gentleman. One thing about Tommy is he has an issue with his right hand which causes him to be a little slower than the others punching in the addresses and handling the postage stamps.
When my turn came Tommy was available and I walked up to his window, My first thought was I had a lot of packages and I was glad the post office wasn’t busy. But as if on cue, people started coming in. Tommy pleasantly started processing my packages as the post office filled up. People were now lined up to the far wall, although six feet apart and wearing masks made it more intimidating than it may have been otherwise.
I was embarrassed for Tommy and I didn’t know the best way to handle it.
Everyone was pleasant except for the post office manager and the other postal workers. They started ‘ribbing’ Tommy in front of me and the rest of the customers. “Tommy need some help?” (without actually helping), “Tommy hurry up!” “Tommy are you sleeping?” and “Tommy what’s the problem?” I was embarrassed for Tommy and I didn’t know the best way to handle it. Do I add my comments to the mix telling them “he’s fine” “leave him alone” “he’s doing a great job” possibly creating more drama or do I stand silently by smiling pleasantly at Tommy offering him a friendly face?
I was most taken with the postal manager who wasn’t actually doing anything to help Tommy or the other customers but was just being rude and judgmental in her loud comments which were in fact slowing the process down because she kept disturbing Tommy.
Finally, after almost an hour the postal manager went to the long line of customers and helped a few of them directly. Then she came up to Tommy and on the last three packages helped him by affixing the postage to the packages.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my experience yesterday and I see many parallels to our everyday life.
How many of us are Tommy’s who are just trying to do the best we can? How many of us are the postal workers giving our unsolicited and unhelpful advice? How many are like the postal manager who has a choice to be helpful through taking action, even small actions to make a positive difference… and doesn’t? And how many are like me and the customers who are watching injustices and drama unfold around us and are unsure of the best thing to do? And how many of us have been each of these at one time or another?
Friends, in this divisive, fear-driven world we are currently living in, I invite everyone to consider holding their judgments and taking more action, even a small action like affixing postage stamps to envelopes to help. Every positive action we can take will return a thousandfold more than our spoken opinions.