I was in the middle of one of the most stressful and busy parts of the year and for the first time in almost a year, I realized I desperately needed some coffee. In my tired, worn out, worn down state I hobbled across the street from work to grab a cup of warm coffee. I opened the door to the shop and a wave of that warm, soothing coffee smell enveloped me. I already started feeling better.
I went to the counter to place my order. While I was waiting for my coffee my friend came in to grab a pastry. She was having a similar week to mine but I would argue much worse. She was not only dealing with an unreasonable amount of work stress, but also with some very intense and painful family health problems. I went to talk to her while she waited in line and when it was her turn at the register the woman running it said, “What is that?” and pointed at the pastry my friend had picked out.
She replied ,“Oh it’s a donut.” and the woman running the register very rudely replied, “Well I figured as much! What kind of donut?” The question itself was reasonable but the way she asked it was not only rude but condescending and completely uncalled for. The woman being unkind to my friend made her feel like she had done something wrong when she hadn’t at all. Had she simply been polite to my friend, my friend’s day would have been much better simply because a kind person sold her a donut and smiled. Simple.
This was only one of numerous incidents I have experienced recently, and though they seem small, they linger in my mind. It emphasizes to me the importance of being kind to one another, especially when that is part of your job description. The fact of the matter is we all deal with hard times. We all have bad days, bad weeks, bad years, or sometimes we are in awful moods for no reason at all. We are human and these things are inevitable. That does not mean it is alright to be hurtful or rude to others around us, especially when it is unwarranted.
Everyone is fighting their own battle. Perhaps the grumpy barista had been having a terrible day. Worst case scenario, maybe she lost a loved one. There could have been something horribly wrong in her life that day, but I know for a fact there was something horribly wrong in my dear friend’s life that day but she was doing her best to stay in one piece and be kind to those around her, including the barista. Points to my friend.
The ultimate lesson here is that you never know someone else’s struggle. Even if you think you do, you probably don’t fully understand. So please do your best to empathize and spread a little love. Try your hardest to be kind and respectful of others. Get off your phone when you order and be respectful to the people who wait on you. If you are on the opposite end of that, be kind to the people you serve. They may be having just as hard a day as you.
The Dalai Lama is always stressing the importance of compassion, and we should listen to him. Compassion is probably the most key emotion we can have, and it will make our world a better place. I challenge you all to exercise compassion every day, and encourage others to do so as well. Then, in the future, there can be a happy barista and a happy customer who can maybe brighten each other’s days.
What’s your best tip or idea about being compassionate? I’d love to hear it.