Friday, August 10, 2012

Compassion, It's What's for Dinner

I watched something happen today while I was at Kaiser waiting for my husband's perscription to be filled, and I was truly appalled. So I thought I would share it with you.
I had just sat down and was settling in for my 20 minute wait. I had the three boys with me. They were all being really well behaved. They typically are when we are in public. Yes, sometimes they aren't and I get the nervous twitch in my eye and a little tick, but overall, they're pretty good. Today was no exception. While I was in line, a mom with her two little, and I mean little, like 5 and 3 or 4 and 2, boys were behind me. I could hear the exasperation in her voice. "Sam, come here right now!" she'd say.
Anyway, I sat down and waited for my name to pop up on the screen. In the waiting room for the pharmacy area, it was pretty crowded. But not so much for the doctor's area. There was perhaps one person waiting in the doctor's area. Well, Sam and his little brother were running around, making a big circle. Their mom was paying for the medicine she was waiting for. She looked over her shoulder, and motioned for the two boys to come to her, but they are a bundle of energy and didn't see her. I glanced at the man next to us and he smiled at the boys running.
The mom finishes paying, walks toward her boys, when the lady at the front desk starts yelling (and I am not exaggerating) yelling, "Boys! Boys! Stop running!" The mom quickly gets the boys' attention, but the woman continues, "Ma'am please control your boys!" The mom's jaw drops, and utter dismay crosses her face. Perhaps it was embarrassment since the woman yelled it from across the room. I saw the look on the mom's face as she grabbed her boys' hands and ushered them out the door.
And I sat there, stunned. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. It broke my heart. For the mom. I understand we were at the doctor's. I get people are sick (although the waiting room wasn't full in the least bit). And I realize that the boys should not have been running around. But the mom was paying for the meds. It wasn't like she was reading a book or something.
And I fully understood the situation could have been handled better, much better. The woman could have grabbed two suckers, walked to the boys and said, "Hey, why don't you ask your mom if you could have these?" Or she could have walked over to the mom and said quietly, "Can you get your boys to settle down?" But to demand that she do that from across the room had me shocked. The poor mom!
I don't know that mom from Eve. I doubt I will ever see her again, but as I sat there, I just couldn't remain quiet. I know, shocker, right? Me? Not speak my mi nd? Hm.... Very calmly, I walked up to a different desk and spoke with another woman. I asked her if she'd seen the boys, and she said, "Yes. I thought about asking them not to run, but got busy." I told her what happened, and she frowned by the other woman's response. I was actually quite kind. I used a gentle voice and assured her that I wasn't trying to complain, but I was deeply saddened to see another person treated that way.
You see, I don't know that mom's situation. Maybe she's just a bad mom. Or maybe it is something deeper: Maybe she's a single mom, doing it all on her own. Maybe her hubby has cancer and she took the boys with her to get his medicine so he could have some time to rest. Maybe the medicine was for her, and she was fighting sickness or anxiety or depression. Because she certainly didn't look happy. Especially not when she left. Maybe she'd had a better day if she was shown an act of kindness and compassion.
Then again, I don't know the other woman either. I made a point to tell the woman I spoke with that perhaps she, too, was having a bad day, and just took it out on that woman and her boys. Which is one reason I did not speak with her. Because, well, I have a tendency to speak my mind,and try as I might, I may not have been very nice to her. Good Lord knows I've been in grumpy lady's shoes, and have spoken roughly to someone when, in fact, I should have been compassionate and kind. (I know. Shocking to think I would do something like that, right?)
But today, as I left Kaiser, my heart went out to both ladies. One, for being extremely embarrassed in front of quite a few people. And for the other, for causing that shame upon aonther person, when it could have been avoided.
The Bible tells us, "Therefore, be kind and compassionate to one another." Oh, if only that had happened today. So, from now on, I pray that when I am about to lose my patience and my tongue is on the verge of lashing out, I can remember what I had seen today, and instead, "put a muzzle over my mouth" and "be compassionate". Because that is what I would want someone to do for me.

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