December 7, 2011: G is for GOODNESS

“I had to be mistaken, we’d all been together too long for there not to be any good times to keep our bond so strong.” (From New Best Friend – A Little Book of Faith by Vera Jones)

It had already been a long, exhausting flight. I had just spent the last two hours wedged into the dreaded middle seat on a plane en route to Detroit. I could barely eat my nine complimentary pretzels without elbowing my less than friendly neighbors on either side. The last thing I needed was a disgruntled customer service representative at the rental car counter. But that’s what it
looked like I was about to experience.

I looked on as the woman demonstrated with great theatric detail every possible non-verbal communicator of annoyance, frustration and overall displeasure with everything remotely associated with her job. If she rolled her eyes any harder at the customer in front of her they surely would have fallen out of the sockets and bounced all over the countertop! I quickly prayed for the strength not to compete with this woman for the ugly attitude award. Given my fatigue, I knew I could be a strong contender.

As I stepped up to the counter, without even looking me in the eye, the woman blurted out with a sigh that made it sound like she had terminal gas, “Name?” I gave her my name then quickly added, “It’s not nearly as pretty as yours. How do you pronounce your name?” I was staring intently at her name tag which revealed “Ahnaia.” “It’s ah-Ny-ah,” she said softening her tone. “Wow, very unique and very pretty,'” I continued smiling at her. She smiled back ever so  faintly, as if the gas had let up a bit. “Thank you,” she replied.

“Ahnaia,” I tried my luck at furthering pleasantries, ” If your day has been anything like mine, you probably can’t wait to get out of here. Have you ever been stuck in a middle seat on an airplane for two hours with only nine pretzels for a friend?” With this she advanced her soft smile to a chuckle and nodded her head. “It’s a horrible experience. But you should know because I’m sure everyone of us comes straight to your rental car counter with our aching knees,  bad vibes and pretzel breath demanding you give us a car with legroom, huh?” She laughed again, as did I, and for a moment, I forgot how ugly I found Anaia’s attitude to be and how frustrated and fatigued I was. All I saw was a good person with a pretty name who probably had just as challenging a day as I had.

I see a lot of ugly in the world, daily. It’s as if we just have become accustomed to selfishness and bad attitudes. But I have not given up on the faith that we are all God’s children and therefore we are all capable of love and kindness. I believe if we project negativity, we invite others to do the same. If we project joy, hope, laughter, peace and all things good, we invite  others to follow suit as well. I’ve learned that rather than combat ugly attitudes with my ugly attitude, to try a little tenderness and empathy instead. Worry and doubt constantly insist that people are probably going to be mean and nasty because we live in such a negative world. But thank goodness faith’s voice still speaks louder that there truly is good in everyone. Sometimes you just have to be willing to look for it. And sometimes you just merely need to initiate it.

Anaia upgraded my rental car that day, no charge. She also offered me complimentary bottled water (Lord knows I needed it after those dry pretzels), and she took the time to show me on a map the best route to my destination. I won’t get so mushy to say I made a friend that day. But I will say I’m sure I avoided an enemy. Anaia not only smiled at me as I departed, but she greeted her next customer kindly too. Goodness is quite contagious it seems. Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself!



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