I remember when one of my sisters was in junior high school and became the brunt of some bullies. And if my memory serves me correctly, junior high girls can be pretty brutal. When my sister came home all upset and on the verge of tears, my mother’s advice? “Kill them with kindness!” And that’s what my sister did. She never stooped to their level. And then a few years later when I was in the 7th grade and being harassed and teased, my mother gave me the same advice. I remember not quite understanding the “killing someone with kindness” remark. It seemed so unnatural for me to treat my little 7th grade enemies with kindness when they were being so unkind to me. I remember coming home and spewing all kinds of venom, telling my mother what I was going to tell these not-so-nice 7th graders. My mother’s advice to me?
It worked. My mother taught me a valuable lesson. She taught me all about turning the other cheek while also teaching me to stand up for myself.
A few days before Christmas, I made an early morning trip to the grocery store. I left my family still at home sleeping in their warm beds, did my store run, then went by Hardees to get some steak biscuits and coffee to take home for breakfast. The drive-thru line was looming long so I decided to go in and put in my order to-go. There were two people ahead of me in the line and two people walked in behind me. There was a middle-aged man being waited on and he appeared to be having a heated “discussion” with the manager. After just a minute or two of standing there, I realized he was trying to use outdated coupons (from 2010) for some sort of filet mignon product that was no longer even on their menu. He was treating the cashier very disrespectfully. He even made some unkind reference to her hair color and called her a name I didn’t quite make out, but his comment left her with her chin dropped and mouth wide open. He was getting out of hand and I’m assuming the manager had been summoned to deal with him. This manager was politely trying to explain to the man that if he would only look at his coupons, that he would see that they were from 2010. He didn’t care. She explained they no longer even had the food he was asking for, that it had long ago been taken off the menu. He didn’t want to accept her explanation and it was clear to me that he just wanted to argue. He turned to us behind him in the line and blasted loudly, that they (Hardees) shouldn’t advertise a product if they weren’t even going to supply it. Again he was told it was a 6-year-old coupon and AGAIN he was told they no longer carried the product. He insisted on holding up the line which I thought was rude of him when he was clearly in the wrong and just wanted to argue. So much for Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men. I almost said something to him about his rudeness but did not want to be drawn into his drama. I think if you try to force a rude person to be kind, it will only make matters worse. I was glad in the end that the Hardees employees AND the people in line remained kind to him (even though I could detect some frustration on their part).
Have you ever known someone like this? Someone who just loves to argue? Someone who would indeed argue with a flea? I thought about this man driving home and I thought about the advice my mother always gave her daughters. It served only to remind me of how much kindness is sadly lacking in our world. It makes me sad to see grown adults be so unkind to people who are serving them and there to help them— whether it be waiters or waitresses or cashiers or medical personnel, the postal clerk, or a medical doctor. Every one deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
What do you think? Is the world becoming more unkind in general?
My husband once told me about a man who had gone into Kroger for groceries and became upset and angry all because he thought the cashier overcharged him a dime. He insisted on calling the manager which of course held up the line and then belligerently demanded that the police be called (despite the manager trying to pay him a dime to make amends) because it was “the principal of the matter.” The police did come but were not too happy. The policeman shook his head and reached into his own pocket, pulled out a dime and handed it to the man and said, “Now, are you happy now?” The man smiled, took the dime and replied that yes, he was happy now. Then he walked out the door. Unbelievable, huh? All over a dime.