Refusing to Diminish Others

Traditionally the busiest time of the year for most retail businesses is the Christmas season. Generally speaking, it’s chaos. Or at least it was when I still worked at Taylors and Borders Books. I was at Taylors from 1983 to 1990. One Christmas we were really in the thick of it. Phones were ringing nonstop. Everyone was harried and customers were rude. You couldn’t wait for the day to end so you could leave. If you didn’t ignore the constant demands you’d go without lunch. On that particular day I fielded a phone call I will never forget. I was overwhelmed and distracted and rushed. I grabbed the phone and said, “Taylor’s Books.” A soft gentle British voice replied, “Hello, dear.” “Hello,” I said startled. She asked for some book I can no longer recall, but I was startled by the warmth and gracious tone in her voice. As if she was filled with gratitude for my help. When I returned I took her off hold, and explained we had no copies, but could order the book if she liked. “No, thank you, dear,” she responded, as if I had crossed an ocean for her. As if my feelings were that valuable to her. I tried to respond in kind but I was choking up. This elderly woman didn’t care what the rest of the world was like. She was making it a point to use the simple power we all share to heal the seemingly ubiquitous rage and damage we constantly endure. She wasn’t going to participate in that. I started to cry and I thought, “Dear God, am I so starved for some shred of kindness that when it comes along, I just go to pieces?” I think most of us share this frustration. Imagine what it would be like in the world, if we all refused to diminish others (or ourselves) simply because of our hurts and disappointments?

Filed under: Prose