Several weeks ago my daughter was picking up breakfast at a fast food restaurant’s drive-thru. This restaurant has many drive-thru customers, so dual lanes are provided. The idea, of course, is that having two lanes will speed the whole process along. Hopefully, while one driver is pulling forward to get her order, the driver in the other lane is placing her order.
This arrangement requires cooperation. Before one customer pulls away from the ordering station and drives toward the pay and pick-up station, she must always check for traffic from the other lane. My daughter followed the correct protocol. However, as she pulled up to the first window, the driver of the car behind her (from the other lane) began honking her horn incessantly, yelling out her window at my daughter, and making ugly gestures.
My daughter was certain that she had not violated any drive-thru etiquette. She was surprised at the verbal attack. Though she was tempted to get out of her car and “discuss” the situation with the other driver, she did not do that. Instead, she asked the cashier to allow her (my daughter) to pay for the order that was being prepared for the honking, yelling, gesturing driver in the car behind her.
Naturally I am pleased with the choice she made. In essence, she “paid kindness forward” when she could instead have “paid meanness back.” This idea was promoted a few years back in a movie titled Pay It Forward, but the principle goes all the way back to the teachings of Christ. (See Matthew 5:43-48.)
Sadly, many people today live on the brink of exploding. Stressed by financial problems, health issues, job responsibilities and other life problems, they overreact to even the tiniest offense. They are walking time bombs.
You have probably met such a person, or maybe you live with one. Possibly you are one. All of us overreact to stresses at times. For most of us, though, that does not happen often. For some people, however, it is a way of life. Their spouses, children, neighbors, coworkers and everyone else they encounter feel the brunt of their anger. Such people need help.
Probably within the next week, possibly even today, you will interact with one of these walking time bombs. You will not be able to remove this person’s stresses. You will not be able make the person change her habits. You can, however, pay a little kindness forward. Maybe the person to whom you show the kindness will be blessed by it. Maybe her spouse, children, neighbors and coworkers will even be blessed. Maybe not. But one thing is certain. You, in offering the kindness, will be blessed.