When I put my credit card in the gas pump, the pump told me to see the cashier. When I went inside and swiped my card it was declined. Instantly I could feel the lady looking at me as if I was some kind of deadbeat who hadn’t paid his credit card bill. “Try another one,” she said. Try not use. “Try” meant if I had any others they probably wouldn’t work either. “Use” wouldn’t have had the same condemning implication. You can imagine my relief when the other one did work. I wanted to say to her. “See. I’m not a crook trying to use someone else’s card.” Getting back in the car I had my wife call the company. What was wrong? We had used it about 30 minutes before. Did someone at that place use the number and max it out? The credit card company claimed they didn’t know what had happened and it would be fine today. It was.
So why was I so concerned about what this stranger lady behind the counter thought of me? I did not know her. I would never see her again. I had reacted like a thirteen-year-old whose main concern is what will others think of me. Actually most of us never outgrow that concern. So often we dress and behave not so much for what we want but for what we think others expect. There is this horrible inner compulsion to be liked, even by strangers. How ironic it is that often we are nicer to people we don’t know than to family who we see every day. Maybe it’s because we figure they already know the truth about us. We are ….. people. (Fill in the blank – nice, mean, loving, hateful, kind, selfish) The kind of people we are is our choice.
Written by Roger Bothwell on July 31, 2014
Spring of Life, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574