Many events in history have a tipping point. One little change to the forces at work and everything is different. World War I was started by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The United States quickly joined World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Not every time, but often enough, one little incident can make all the difference.
When I start watching a television series, I hope for that sort of tipping point. I still remember when it happened during LOST, and that was seven years ago. The pilot episode had been great. There were plenty of interesting characters, I like J.J. Abrams, and it seemed just weird enough for me. Then episode four, Walkabout aired. (Spoilers contained if you are a goober and still have yet to watch it.) That brief clip was enough to guarantee my loyalty to the end. I was surprised, I was amazed, and one of my favorite character-actors had a lot to work with. In that moment, I was sold.
Moments have little to do with length and more to do with impact. Be it awe or affection, a lot can happen in a short time. There are moments, or milestones if you will, that I stick with me. I remember sitting in the car in our garage making my mom cry. I remember when my best friend told me she had cancer. And I remember when my act of carelessness and anger almost cost my roommate her life. There are plenty of memories in the day to day life, but the pivotal “life flashing before my eyes” moments are all short, sharp, and distinct. To say that they changed my life and my perspective would be understating matters.
I was in the back room at work a few days ago and a coworker started singing, “The Hairbrush Song”. I am a scholar of vintage Veggietales, and so I joined in. I went on to recite “Busy, Busy” and the “LarryBoy” theme song as well. (The newer stuff simply does not grab me.) The cohort told me that he used to watch plenty of Veggietales as a kid.
“But church ruined it for me when they told me God hates gays.”
I am still of the opinion that God does not hate anyone. That God is love. I am simple like that. However, whether you agree or not, that one sermon in church was enough to make the former congregate feel like he did not belong.
We had training at work for the winter. People will be out trying to create holiday memories (And photograph them. Endlessly.) and many will swing by my workplace. Not surprisingly, we were being encouraged to take extra care in making sure people felt less like customers in cue and more like actual individuals. Crazy talk, I know.
As part of that, we were given actual comments from customers. Some were very nice and reaffirming; how we had taken time to get to know people or how we went out of our way to help a stressed parent with many children nipping at their attention span. Then, of course, there were a handful of negative ones. The customer had a request that was high-maintenance and high-crazy. And they were displeased at how it had been handled.
I am of two camps in this area. My gut reaction is to roll my eyes. The more godly approach is to love everybody and give them what they want. (Matthew covers that pretty thoroughly.) That was what the higher-ups wanted us to do. Go along with people and give them what they pay for. In the long run, it uses less energy. But more germane to this topic, it avoids those instances where people snap and decide to never return because of that one incident. (Honestly, I would rather some folks not return. However, I am supposed to love everybody. So I guess I still have to work on that.)
Being sarcastic comes easily to me. I am a fan of living simply and not adding on extra things. I feel that we should be thankful for whatever we are given. Those three opinions can make times trying in customer service. I would relish being a snide jerk and tell them what I really think. But how does that make society any better? How is that improving others’ lives instead of instigating a moment that will not improve life?
My best friend knew she was going to marry her now-husband when she saw how supportive he was during her chemotherapy. I am reading a book right now where a grandmother gets herself arrested for breaking into a zoo, all so that her young relative will remember that wacky moment, not the crummy day where her favorite scarf was ripped. That kind of kindness and selflessness is worth striving for. Plus, it sounds comical.
Trying to make every moment in someone’s life amazing is never going to work. Yet, I feel that attempting to create pleasant moments is far better than trying to express my frustration. Jimmy Stewart said it pretty well in Harvey. (Hey, he said I could quote him.)
I would rather be remembered as the guy who affirmed a woman’s work ethic than teased her for wearing impractical shoes. (Have you seen some of the heels out there? There are some ankle injuries just pleading to happen.) I would rather hug a coworker whose cat has died than ask them why they are not wearing deodorant. And I would much rather tell someone that God loves them than try to nitpick aspects of their lives that I do not agree with.
If I need to tell someone a note that is corrective, I try to do it kindly. Ideally I would be saying it in a loving manner. I want them to remember a lesson, not lament it. I certainly do not claim a high success rate. I should like to believe that I am improving. I do hope that we are all striving for cherished moments, not profound scars.