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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Last (In Line) Shall Be First

View of people waiting in line to pay at the grocery store
Do you really want to do something radical?  Do you want people to notice that you aren’t just another selfish person living for the moment?  Then let someone cut in line today.

Most people hate waiting in line.  Including me.  I’m one of those people who tries to “help” the person behind the register (even when there are five people in front of me) by offering to do a price check or suggesting that we call another department or open a new line. 

Waiting tends to get the best of me.  Especially when it’s unexpected. 

Last week, I dropped Nick off for his “make-up” piano lesson -- a 30-minute wait that I wasn’t looking forward to.  When we arrived, Nick no sooner sat down at the piano when another student (and another impatient mother) arrived.

The teacher had double-booked the slot!  And one of us would have to wait another 30 minutes for the lesson to start.

So, did I do the mature thing and offer to go second?  Not exactly.  Nick had already started playing and I thought to myself, It’s a good thing we got here first.

But the other mother started ranting and raving about how she had so many errands to run, and the teacher was doing his best to be fair.  So he said, “Let’s flip a coin, and the student who wins the toss can choose to go first or second.”

We couldn’t argue with the coin toss.

The teacher flipped the coin, and the other student won – fair and square.  Rats!  Nick and I would have to wait.  So the teacher turned to the student and said, “Would you like to go first?”

To our surprise, she looked at Nick and replied, “No, I’ll go second.” 

And then, her mother gave her the look of terror.  A look that said, What are you thinking?  A look that said, Can’t you see how busy I am?  A look that said, How stupid can you be?

This sweet child  -- who was more gracious than any of the adults involved -- was now both embarrassed and belittled.  And I was started to get this yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach.  So I walked over to the piano chair, grabbed Nick by the coat and took him outside to wait.

I turned to Nick and said, “Remember, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

He just smiled and said, “Let’s go to Starbucks, Mom.”


Steph, from Be Positive Mom said...

Amazing lesson there! You taught Nick a valuable lesson and the other mom well, not so much. Sometimes you've got to just throw the schedule out the door and let all the to-do lists wait.

Jazzie Casas said...

Hi there I am one of many single moms and I find your site very interesting. I hope I have much time each day to drop by and check your site for recent post. By the way thank you for sharing this.

Heidiopia said...

Love this post, Susan-- you've done a wonderful job raising your son :)... Have a blessed holiday weekend!

Laura said...

Oh, the things our kids teach us!

Bradley J. Moore said...

What an awesome story! The child displaying such graciousness - because she isn't driven by the towering list of to-do's and grown-up responsibilities. Really, I think you're right. It's all in our heads. That little girl is the one who is teaching us the right behavior.

And I LOVE the idea of you me and Matthew meeting up in Starbucks! We'll have to make that happen, somehow, some way, some day. :)

Amy Sullivan said...

Why do kids always get it way before we do? Great post especially since there is going to be lots of line-waiting from here on out!

David Rupert said...

I really like this idea. I just read about the defense of "our space" and we hold on to it with such vigor.

And now your suggestion that we not only back down, but let someone else invade what we 'earned'.

Warren Baldwin said...

Hi, just stopping in to thank you for visiting Family Fountain for Rosslyn's guest post.

I liked this article. Have you read John Ortberg's book, "The LIfe You've Always Wanted"? It is about spiritual discipline for everyday life. One of the things he suggests is letting people in front of you at the grocery store or in any line. It forces you to slow your pace and be patient. Your post made me think of that.

Good story and good point. wb