Tuesday, January 4, 2011
P4E.195 No Help Wanted
I've learned that unusual circumstances provide opportunities to test my own ability to respond, to learn something about myself and that they prompt me to ask important questions. Here's a recent unusual circumstance:
I went to Lowes and used the self-checkout there. There's always an employee ready to assist if you need help. I had purchased some bottled waters and selected the "Skip Bagging" option because it was a heavy item. This time the machine prompted "Assistance Needed to Approve Skipped Bagging." The checker came over and did the approval.
I intended to pay part with cash and part with my debit card. I inserted the cash and was prompted to pay the balance. At this point, the checker noticed that I was doing some extra steps and approached again. Without speaking, he took my debit card from me and slid it through the machine. I didn't exactly know what he was doing, or why he was doing it, so I didn't object. He directed me, "Enter your PIN number," which I did. When the machine prompted, "Cash Back?" he reached in front of me and pressed "No." When the machine prompted, "Is This the Correct Amount?" he pressed "Yes." When the machine prompted, "Take Your Receipt," he took the receipt out and handed it to me with my debit card. Without a word, he went back to his post. This all took a matter of seconds and since I was unsure why he was doing what he was doing, I never objected.
As I walked out of the store, I tried to figure out what had just happened. And then it hit me. "I think he thought I was so old that I needed help." (I'm in my mid-50's, but I don't think I look THAT old!) And then, "He made decisions for me. They WERE the decisions I would have made anyway, but he presumed that I did not want cash back." "He thought I was helpless and dull and slow. He did not ask me any questions, he just assumed that I needed help and took over." "Why didn't I stop him and tell him his help wasn't necessary?" "I guess I just didn't want to be rude. I just let him go ahead and help me even though I didn't really need his help. Whatever."
How did it make me feel? Well, frankly, a little embarrassed at first. Do I really look that old and helpless? Then some indignation set in. "He did not ask me if I needed help or if I wanted cash back or any questions at all." The way he took over the decision-making made me feel bullied." I felt robbed of my opportunities to make decisions. Ultimately, I felt ignored and left-out.
I'm also learning that these unusual physical circumstances are allowed by God to teach me spiritual lessons. These emotions affect my spirit and have spiritual consequences. Most importantly, I've learned to ask myself if I've made others (especially my wife) feel these same emotions. Almost every time now, when I ask my wife if I have made her feel an emotion, she smiles and says "Of course you have. Do you remember when...?" and she will describe situations where I've made her feel embarrassed, indignant, bullied, robbed, ignored and left-out.
"Ah! It makes me feel awful to know that I've made you feel those things. I KNOW now how that feels. I'm soooo sorry! Please forgive me! I'll try my best to not make you feel those things ever again."
Unless the hurt is too deep and takes more than a little time to heal, she is usually so gracious to accept my apology and forgive me. This is how it works. This is what I'm talking about.
Happy New Year!