A few weeks ago, I stopped at a convenience store to throw out some trash items that were in my car. To make the stop faster, I parked next to the trash can. Little did I know that an older man had driven behind me with the intent of fueling his car.
My plan was to quickly step out of my car, dump the trash, and drive away. In total, this entire process might take about 15 seconds.
The cantankerous man had zero patience, and he was upset I was blocking his ability to pump gas. It’s true that I was giving him insufficient space, but my plan was to quickly dispose of the trash and move right along.
I would be out of his way in mere seconds.
As I took the few steps to the trash can, he opened his door, and yelled: “Really, you SOB! Really!” [He used the long version of SOB.]
I was caught off-guard by his yelling, especially because this was happening in a public place.
He kept screaming, “Really … you SOB!”
On this day, I kept my cool, and I responded, “God bless you.”
Without hesitation, he fired back, “God bless you … you SOB!”
Every emotion in my body was telling me to stand up for myself. It was important to defend myself. I needed to put this old man in his place.
For the past year or so, I have attended a bible study program where we discussed the importance of patience, humility, and love. I also learned the value of being slow to anger.
On this sunny afternoon day when the man screamed at me, God gave me the confidence to remain calm and in control.
This reaction to the volatile situation was new to me, and I liked it. I felt comfort in my ability to avoid getting into a confrontation with a stranger. He is having a bad day, or perhaps a bad life, and I don’t need to be a part of it.
My 19-year-old son, Aaron, and I recently walked into a busy pastry shop where my wife was near the front of the line. When we started making our way to her, this lady said, “The line is back here.”
Aaron responded, “My mother is at the front of the line.”
The lady was unhappy with his response, and she mumbled a few words, which I am sure were not pleasantries.
To avoid escalating the situation, Aaron and I walked out of the shop, and we had a quiet walk together.
From experience, I do know there are times when I will need to defend myself. There are also times when I will have to protect my family.
However, I am learning that it is often best to walk away from confrontations. It’s true that the other person will likely get the last word.
From this newfound perspective, I’m more concerned about the person that I am becoming, which means I must embrace the value of serenity, love, and kindness, even when they are not reciprocated.