One of my best friends had surgery one time, major gallbladder surgery back in the days before laparascopic procedures with their three little holes. This was a cut-halfway-around-the-torso-from-front-to-back surgery, with serious recovery time and very painful. She related her ride home on the four lane in Miami, with her mom driving really slowly so that she wouldn’t bump my friend so much. Every little jolt and jar caused Petie (her nickname) terrific discomfort that caused her mom to slow even more. People were passing their vehicle continuously, some not being very nice about it at all. Several were downright rude while passing their car, showing their impatience in very obvious ways. They finally made it home, safe and sound.
Now, my friend says that whenever she gets behind a car that is going really slowly, she always thinks of that day, and says to herself, “They might have just had surgery, don’t get upset at them, every bump hurts.” She says that it helps her get through road rage. I remind myself of this a lot, and find myself thinking “they just had surgery, they just had surgery”. It helps….sometimes.
Today was my “surgery” day. I work in a very public setting, and usually can present a positive face to the people with whom I come into contact. They are in my office because of their issues, and they don’t need to hear or know about mine. Now I am blessed to have lots of friends who come to see me, and we do lean on each other for sympathy, laughs and understanding, and I do share with a lot of my patients what’s happening in my life. But in almost 20 years of practice, only about 5-6 times has my personal angst reared its extremely ugly head in front of people that I don’t know (don’t ask my family, they see that cobra more than they want to). Today…I was very short with someone that had just come in, and that person chose not to stay. I was not super rude, but I could have handled it MUCH better. After the debacle was over and I had a chance to put on my hindsight glasses, I wished I could have told him about my “bumpy ride”.
I had had a tough morning…Caboose was coughing and didn’t want to let me go, Weatherman and Monkey were lollygagging, and I was really booked for the morning and trying to get things done. I also had a family thing going on that I will elaborate on later, but suffice it to say, my mind was with the rest of my family, and I let that control my emotions. No, no one’s getting divorced or dying of cancer or even physically sick, but like all families, mine has some issues going on. And I let that get in the way of being the person I normally am this morning.
I beat myself up most of the morning, and will probably write a note to apologize for being so short with the person. I think I am writing about this to remind us to always be mindful of where people are, emotionally. That cashier at Walmart who just goofed up your receipt? She might be dealing with sickness or hurt that doesn’t show. That kid who is giving your kid a hard time? They might be getting a hard time themselves at home. That customer service person who is not being very nice (if they speak English and you can understand them) might have just had a death in their family and is grieving. I have always told my dad that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, but I didn’t take my own advice this morning. I allowed my bumpy ride to overpower someone else’s roller coaster day.
Jesus said that what you do unto the least of them you do unto Him. That means taking the time to put aside our own “post surgical rides home” and care about that person standing in front of us. I wish I had done this today. But I will just keep telling myself, when I get frustrated with that slow person or with something that throws my day off, “bless their hearts, they might have just had surgery.” I encourage you to do the same.