Last Friday, I found myself with a small amount of time. It was too long before my aerobics class to just go and sit at the gym, and long enough to run to a nearby post office to send off some packages to my niece and nephew for Valentine's Day. The place was busy, I was not the only one waiting until the last minute. This was not my usual post office and I was surprised by how kind everyone was. In fact, I actually had the thought, "This has got to be the friendliest post office anywhere." As I was getting my mailings prepared, I heard three different men help three different older women with doors, packages or with some piece of equipment. Everyone was speaking friendly to each other. There was a palpable positive vibe in the place as people laughed and kindly greeted one another.
That was until 4:27 rolled around. A worker decided to lock the doors to the counter service portion of the post office in preparation for that part of the post office to be closed at 4:30. People running inside the post office to get in line in the last minutes of the business day were incredibly frustrated and some angered to find the doors already closed. The man who had locked in the doors stood on just the other side and refused to let anyone else in. One customer even stood and argued with the man, yelling at him through the glass, but he refused to open the doors for him. There was no apologies, no regret. The doors were closed and that was it. People began walking around the outside lobby area, seemingly frustrated with everyone. They were trying to figure out the automated services and angered by anyone who was ahead of them in line. As all of the fussing and complaining echoed around the lobby, the tension level rose. At this time, I was already mailing my packages through the automated service so I was not particularly shaken by the change of events. That was until I got into my car and tried to leave the parking lot. The same people who had just minutes before been so happy to help each other now were in a fight for their lives to get out of the parking lot as soon as possible. It literally took me ten minutes to get out of the parking lot! Most of that time was spent trying to back out of my parking space!
It is amazing what a difference a little common courtesy, kindness and grace can make in the world. It's like that old commercial where one kind deed breeds another. May we be the kind of leaders who realize that keeping order and following protocol is not always the most important thing. May we be the kind of people who, in a world of doors closing early, continue to open doors, help others and be gracious in parking lots. A little kindness and grace go along way.