Monday, May 27, 2013

Words and Deeds Matter

Yesterday was one of those days where you think you're living a dream. Birthday parties, kids swimming in a backyard pool, happy smiles, playing soccer in the backyard, friends around, family phone calls, no immediate crises.

I try to enjoy those moments and imprint them on my brain because there are other moments that are more chaotic and stressful.

But a small, poignant reminder to me of how words, and seemingly throw away remarks matter hit me again yesterday.

I had to pick up a birthday present and was at a local mall. The big bookstore had something I thought would be great and they even had a free gift-wrapping service for kids books! Bonus!

The woman who wrapped the book must have been close to 70 or so and was taking great pains to cut the paper nicely and fold the edges tightly. My husband was starting to get a little impatient, but I reminded him we were not in a rush.

After she finished, I said thank you-you did a lovely job and I could not have done it better myself.

She paused, looked up at me and said 'why thank you-that means a lot, because just last week, I had an irate customer yell at me and tell me that she could have done a much better job herself'.

I told her that her work was lovely, and that she needn't pay any attention to the angry woman who was so rude, and that it was more a reflection on that person's simmering inner anger than anything to do with the wrapping.

Two customers, two wrapped books-two different approaches.

She said that it had really rattled her confidence to be so publicly reprimanded, and that my having told her that she did, in fact, do a lovely job, made her day.

A few words, spoken properly make a difference.

It doesn't cost anything to be decent.

The damage wrought, and the human cost of rudeness to others is quite incalculable.