Friday, November 20, 2009

We just never know...


We never really know what's going on in people's lives, do we?

Our neighborhood grocery store has decided to be uber-friendly. You can't walk through the store without being greeted several times. It gets annoying, actually, especially for someone like me who is trying to remember exactly what they came for. But yesterday as our groceries were being bagged, I noticed that the lady who was doing the bagging was not friendly even a little bit. In fact, she kept her head down, and when she had to look up, did not acknowledge my husband or myself. In this particular store, it seemed odd. Then I noticed that she seemed sad. Her mouth was turned down and her eyes appeared tense.

We really don't know what's going on in people's lives during this difficult time in our country's history. We do know that more people are going hungry, houses are being foreclosed on people with good credit histories, jobs are continuing to be lost every day. Nevada, the state in which I live, is number two in the race to be hardest hit. This lady, who is Latina, is part of a group often in the bottom tier economically. One can only guess why she did not feel like smiling or greeting, deciding instead to just get through her day.

It was a reminder to be kind to all those that cross my path, whether they reciprocate or not. To have patience, even when people are being impatient. And to be extra vigilant, giving to food banks, and charitable organizations whenever possible.

We just never know what people are going through, do we?

40 comments:

Natalie said...

No, we don't.
I am so sick of pretending, when I am in hideous pain......even in my own in-law family.
My wish is for all of us to connect to our compassionate hearts just as you have done Nancy.
This is why we are here, to learn to love each other. You ALWAYS make my heart smile Nancy. Thank You.xx♥

sas said...

thanks for writing this - I am so absorbed in my work at the moment that I forget sometimes that my partner is suffering in a job he hates because the options for another are just not there right now.

SquirrelQueen said...

You are so right, we really don't know what's happening with the people we interact with each day. I try to have a smile for others and donate to charities whenever possible.
This is a great post, thanks for the reminder.
Judy

Ruth said...

Point very well taken. I was thinking something along these lines yesterday when I was walking back from the coffee shop to my office. I had needed a break because I was especially low for no good reason. I reminded myself that there are those with very BAD reasons to feel low - GOOD reasons in other words, and when I stepped back to look at my life, I recognized all the reasons I am fortunate - including being able to walk away from my office for an hour - at whim - and buy a $1.50 coffee at Starbucks. Thank you.

otin said...

It is true. Some times people are much worse off than they will let on.

John Atkinson said...

I came up very hard. If she was ill and couldn't smile than she should have stayed home. I would have been happy to have a job bagging groceries and I'd be smiling and doing my best to please the person who is making all that happen.

Missy said...

So true. Thanks for the reminder!

Gaston Studio said...

No we don't and we shouldn't be too quick to judge either. I fully believe people treat you as you expect them to treat you, so if you treat people kindly, you never how just how much that particular incident might mean to them.
Great post Nancy!

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

A post to learn by. The old saying "walk a mile in THEIR shoes" comes to mind. We often hide our problems within..but show it through our outward self and expressions. Kindness is such a simple act.bestow

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

This is so true and such a good reminder Nancy. And people in 'the bottom tier' economically can't indulge themselves with time off when they don't feel well, or are in crisis. It costs us nothing to demonstrate compassion and it fills the coffers of our heart.

DJan said...

The simple fact that you paid attention to the clerk, that you saw her as a fellow human being, and that you wrote about her tells me volumes about the person YOU are, Nancy. Thank you for being my cyber friend who shows me how it's done...

luksky said...

So true. Too many time we take people's "rudeness" as a personal attack when really most of the time they are dealing with some issues of their own. Compassion is what this world needs.

Whitney Lee said...

I've noticed that the older I get the more I consider the other people around me. I'm not sure if this is simply growing out of the natural selfishness of youth or being a parent which by nature means you check your needs at the door or perhaps a combination of the two.
The more I look at life from another's perspective the more compassionate and understanding I can be. Thank you for the reminder that we are all going through something, even the people we just brush past.

ellen abbott said...

There is so much misery in the world, not just joblessness and all that goes with it. We don't know what people are hiding inside. We thoughtlessly pass judgement when a smile and a good word is so easy. How does that go...be the change you want to see in the world.

(my verification word was 'faces'.)

~JarieLyn~ said...

No, we don't know what's going on with others. I admit, sometimes I am too quick to judge and I have a tendency to think the worst of people rather than the good. Thanks for reminding me to pay attention and be kind.

Leah J. Utas said...

That's right. We don't, and can't, know what is truly happening to another. It's hard to remember that at times when we get snapped at or treated curtly, but if we look past it, and realize it is (proabably) not meant personally, then we'd all get along so much better.

smiles4u said...

You are so spot on Nancy! We don't know what is going on in the people we come across. While someone could say that she should have been smiling a fake smile, regardless of how she is feeling, because thats her job and she should just be happy to have a job. To that I would say, put down the stone and look at yourself. We can be so quick to judge others when really we ourselves aren't always at our best. When I come across someone such as this woman bagging your groceries, I make it a point to smile and be extra nice to them and when I leave, I say a silent prayer for them.

Thanks for the reminder!

Inty swetha said...

you are right!! we never know what pressure they are under! I'm happy that you are at least concerned, there are many who would never care for others.
thanks for writing this article.. it makes me feel that there is someone who is read to hear from me when i'm under stress :)

GYPSYWOMAN said...

ironic, your post today, nancy - just yesterday afternoon i was in my grandson's pediatrician's office with him - we were on time for his appointment, actually 10 minutes early - but then we sat an hour and a half before we were ever called back to an exam room and that was only after i asked twice - apparently the nurse had forgotten we were there - once in, she was indifferent to alejandro's tears after his big injection - etc etc - oh, and i forgot to mention that it took my daughter numerous phone calls over a period of two weeks to get the office to return her phone call about coming in at all - in any event, when the doctor came in, i told him that i felt he would want to know and should know what had happened to us - the two weeks to get babyboy in - the hour and a half wait - and then the total lack of consideration when we got there, etc - and he said that hearing all that made him very unhappy - that he had repeatedly told his staff that the one thing they should do every single day with each patient was to put themselves in the shoes of that person - try to imagine what that person was going through - and how they, themselves, would want to be, would expect to be, treated under the same circumstances - and so our conversation went on into the need for us to each "walk a minute" even in the shoes of another - and how with such a seemingly small thing, our world collectively and individually would be so different - anyway, your experience just brings up that point again - and something we should all bring up every day in every way - great post, as usual, nancy!

Kay said...

nope. not really, even when we think we do...those smiling, welcoming faces aren't so disconcerning anymore, are they? Good example to chew on.

Lily Robinson said...

Bravo! If all people would only learn to think this way... A lot of us tend to harshly judge people that are unfriendly or act rude. If we could only remember to ask ourselves why... Maybe we could bring forth a fountain of compassion!

Brian Miller said...

great post nancy. now is the time we need to be ever mindful of the people around us. not that there is ever a time we should not, but these are difficult days. you never know what is going on in someones life and the littlest act may make all the difference int he world to them.

have a great weekend!

The Good Cook said...

I just read an article by Kate Braestrup, a female minister in which she explains that she tries everyday to do what the Bible admonishes us to do, that is:

"Be as loving as you can, as often as you can, for as many people as you can, for as long as you live"

I think this is an admirable goal. She also advises to start with just one person - and she guarantees it will grow.

What is we all started with just one person? How quickly would love grow?

Land of shimp said...

Two things, Nancy...it is very, very important to extend the benefit of the doubt to those around us, and try to see them compassionately, just as we would like to be seen. We never know what someone's personal story may be, and I can't help but hope that the clerk simply had a headache, and would soon be well, and cheerful again.

But too often we make the behavior of others about us, when it is almost always about what is going on with them. Remembering to view others compassionately is a great thing, and so is remembering not to take too many things personally. Chances are good that they aren't about us.

The second thing, in a completely different tone, is holy crow, do I ever agree with you about it be borderline annoying to be greeted at every turn. Actually, it's not the greeting, it can be the constant offers of assistance that can be grating.

The last time I was in Whole Foods, I stepped back and stood, considering the contents of the shelf, my mind quite firmly elsewhere when I heard a very cheerful voice say, "CAN I HELP YOU FIND ANYTHING, MA'AM?" at such a volume that I nearly landed amongst the dried beans in front of me.

I swear, that man must have popped up from between the floorboards. It was really quite funny, as well as startling.

Luckily, I was able to remind myself, "He's just doing his job." before answering, and therefore was quite cheerful in replying, "No, thank you, just looking."

But I will say that by the fifth inquiry during that shopping trip, I was scurrying through the grocery store with a determined purpose, trying to flee before I'd been helped into a fit ;-)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Good post. Our local grocery store has a donation every Thanksgiving for food banks, but it seems it['s something that should go on all year, especially in these times.

Pat said...

Nancy, you are SO right! You never know what a person is experiencing. They may be just having a bad day, or they may be having a bad TIME in their life. We should all be more understanding. Thanks for the gentle nudge to be more kind.

susan said...

Remembering we aren't the only real people in the world is a good way of practicing compassion. Sometimes it the only way we can participate in healing the world.

Bogey said...

Nancy, sometimes I believe that those who smile more are the ones who are probably going thru their own little Hell's on earth. But, who rise above their own sorrows in order to put a smile on my face. The coming season is always a reminder to think about, "There but for the grace of God."

Deborah said...

Thank you for the reminder that we err when we make judgments or assumptions about others.

So often people react badly to impoliteness or incivility, or just being ignored, as you were. If we stopped taking other people's actions personally, but realized that their actions speak to what is going on within themselves, and has nothing to do with us, we'd be in a better world.

A very good post.

Rob-bear said...

As a minister, I've had lots of experience in learning how people feel. But people are pretty good at hiding their feelings -- that's what they've been taught. As in, "You've got your troubles, I've got mine." Which is a fancy way of saying "Shut up."

So, you never do know for sure how others feel. Unless you ask, or they volunteer.

The one thing I do remember is an old saying: "If you see someone without a smile, give 'em one of yours."

And your right; pain does enlarge our facility for compassion.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

No, we don't know what pain people carry. Great post to remind of this. Often, just a smile from someone can change my day. I appreciate that from others. Hope I give it back.

Lori ann said...

How true. Thank you Nancy for this so meaningful post. It is good to be reminded on a regular basis, kindness and compassion are always welcome. You are so sweet.

And hilarous too, I LOVED your previous post. It was so funny and so true, even if we only shop once a year, it is the same with us. I hope you got a good one?

Deboshree said...

That's very sad.

It is true though. People in your country are really living in uncertain conditions.

Hope the worst for all of you gets over soon.

Love
Deboshree

Verily I go. said...

Outward thinking, being. Very beautiful Nancy, thanks.

Shrinky said...

I don't doubt every one of us personally knows of friends or of family members who are badly struggling through this recession. In greater or lesser ways, it appears to have hit each and every one of us. These are times when we realise the true value of things, such as pulling together, support and love. Yes, there but for the grace of God..

Tulika said...

Great thought !

And good to see blogging for a cause.
Besties..!!

Merisi said...

I agree!
I have learned to be friendly even to people who on the outside are not. One would not believe how often, after they open up, one learns that there is a soft suffering soul behind that rough veneer. It takes so little to lighten up another person's day, even if one cannot change their life.

Hilary said...

There's absolute truth here. It's a lot easier to judge as being unfriendly or nuts when they don't smile, or they cut you off and speed ahead of you while driving, but we never know what's truly driving them. It's always good to have this reminder. Thanks for that.

PeacefulWmn9 said...

It was wonderful of you to notice that underlying sadness rather than feeling resentment, as some would.

Yes, we never know.

Karen

controlyourdestiny said...

"It was a reminder to be kind to all those that cross my path, whether they reciprocate or not"

This is a beautiful way of being. Thank you for the reminder.