I had to apologize to my neighbor for being so crabby to her and her grandchildren. We all went to a party at the community center, and I was off. Way off. Nothing was right. I should have been quarantined in a room by myself, but unfortunately, I wasn’t, and no one was safe from my venom.
Then there was that time when I totally laid into my husband about forgetting to put the baby sitter’s phone number into his phone. That was not our best date night ever.
Then there was the time when I … well, never mind. I think you get the point. This lady who loves kindness can get really ugly in a hurry.
But the thing about incorporating kindness into your daily life is that when you are unkind, you can feel it in a hurry. And that feeling does not sit well.
Having to apologize is humbling, humiliating even, but it provides another avenue to being kind.
My friend’s husband is a doctor. He is really good at what he does, but I think he’d agree that he is a much better doctor, and a better person, than he used to be because he has learned that income and education and titles don’t make you better than anyone else.
Not too long ago, he was heading out of town for some sort of camping trip. He realized he had forgotten his utility knife, so he popped into Wal-Mart for a new one.
He found exactly what he needed on the shelf right above the $29.99 price tag. Happy to be on his way, he walked up to the checkout, only to find out his $29.99 knife was ringing up at $80.
A manager was called over and quickly asserted that the knife was placed on the wrong shelf. It was indeed $80, and because of the huge cost difference, the store couldn’t honor the lower price.
My friend’s husband handled the situation, shall we say, less than delicately. He went on to say some not-so-nice things and pretty much verbally attacked the store manager. Then he marched out of Wal-Mart, got in his car and drove away.
And then he started to think.
He wasn’t too far down the road when the weight of his words hit him in the gut full force.
The kind doctor stopped the car, pulled out his phone and called the store. When the manager got on the phone, the conversation went something like this, “Sir, I’m the guy who was just yelling at you in the checkout lane. I just want to say I’m very, very sorry. You don’t deserve that treatment, and I am ashamed of myself. Will you please forgive me?”
The manager went on to say things like that happened all the time, but he had never before had anyone call to apologize.
It was probably a humbling experience for both men and one they will long remember.
Sure, it’s best when we can totally control our words and emotions and act with kindness from the get-go, but when that doesn’t work, being kind enough to say, “I’m sorry” is pretty powerful, too.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.