I'm an introvert who doesn't like to cause any commotion or conflict. And so when something happened with a gift card transaction and being overcharged on my debit card for the remaining balance, my tensions were high as I dealt with going into the store and talking with associates and the manager, making numerous phone calls, and making several stops into the bank to sort it all out. It was a strange and confusing and little issue, but it was still something we didn't want to just overlook. Even though it was a minor thing, we still wanted to get the money back we were supposed to.
My introvertedness was already on high alert as I sat inside someone's office trying to talk through the situation and finalize the confusing claim. And then an elderly couple came in and started loudly discussing how no one was immediately helping them. I happened to be with the only person available at the time, and they decided to just stand by the office doorway and demand someone help them.
They refused to sit down and stood there by the door, just listening to my conversation with the banker. They realized I was only trying to get $20 back and then decided to say some really rude comments to each other and then to another banker who came from the back to try to calm them and help them. As I sat there and heard them loudly grumble about my "trivial matter" and how I was just a "little girl who couldn't remember what date I used my credit card" tears started to roll down my face.
I had never interacted with this couple. They know nothing about me. All they did was storm in and see that I was already being helped and insist their matter was more important than mine.
They didn't know I offered for them to be helped in my place when they walked in because I knew my matter would take a little while to sort out. They didn't know that I had tried to get this resolved several other times. They didn't know I was trying to get a mere $20 back because my husband works really hard for us and that small amount actually makes a difference for us. They didn't know I was out of my comfort zone even trying to get such a little thing taken care of. They didn't know our struggles with trying to not stress about finances.
They just saw their need and their matter and bulldozed over anyone who stood in their way. They acted entirely entitled and impatient.
And I felt so small and insignificant.
Part of me wanted to defend myself. And I wanted to defend the kind gentleman who was helping me. We were all being accused of being insensitive and rude, disrespectful and unaccommodating.
Everyone in the bank was kind and courteous. And I was just a customer being helped. I sat holding Katherine in my lap, listening to the many harsh words spoken about me and about the bank and I just couldn't hold back the tears. Thankfully they eventually left, but I was left so shaken up.
I left soon after with my issue finally resolved, and continued to be shaken up as I drove across town. Tears continued to roll down my face as I replayed what had just happened and the words I heard.
And I just kept thinking of how small I felt. How their insensitive words hurt.
But I also walked away learning a couple great lessons.
It showed me to never put my own matters above someone else's. It may seem inconvenient to wait a few moments if urgency is felt about my matter, but you never know what someone else is going through. It may seem your circumstances are greater and your issues are more significant, but you never know the burdens of a stranger.
It showed me to never think I know the full story when I overhear a few words. It may seem like I can piece together what is happening, but I can't interpret what someone else says if it isn't being spoken directly to me. I can't claim to know the whole story or understand intentions if I am not involved in the conversation. Context is so important.
Although I was momentarily shaken up, I am so thankful for those reminders. I will never forget how I felt that day and that will help me love and serve others better. That couple gave me a gift, even in their grumbling.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.