There’s a gas station at the corner of Sand Hill Road and Sharon Park Drive in Menlo Park. I used to live on Sharon Park, so I’d drive by the gas station pretty much every day. I was also a smoker then, Marlboro Lights, at least two packs a day, sometimes more. I had a thing where I’d never buy a carton, figuring that kept me conscious of how much I was smoking. It didn’t really work. The gas station that sold the cigarettes was only a few blocks away. A two-minute drive, at most. “Two packs of Marlboro Lights, please” that was something I said at least once a day. Sometimes more than once.
One day I went into the gas station to buy some smokes, and the guy behind the counter couldn’t seem to find them or hear me, or whatever. I must have said three different times “Two packs of Marlboro Lights, please.” He was sweating. Really confused. At first I took it as a sign of disrespect, anger rose, but I tried to hide it. After what seemed an eternity of not getting what I wanted, something clicked for me. “This guy is having a hard time.” That’s very different from “He’s giving me a hard time.” I realized he wasn’t my problem, and I wasn’t his. He had problems, but they had nothing to do with me. So I stopped, took a big breath, smiled, and waited. He brought me what I asked for, I gave him the money. I smiled and said “Have a great day.”
He smiled back and said he was sorry. I said no worries man. (Or something like that.) I smiled again and turned to leave.
I always think of that day when I get into a tight spot with someone, a friend sometimes, a person in a store or on the subway, in an airport. This is a person who is trying to do his or her best, given the circumstances, and for whatever reason, having nothing to do with me, is having trouble. I’m going to try to make it easier for them.
The point of this story is — nothing. I just thought it was time to write it. 🙂
Have a great day!