We live in an impatient society. We want what we want, and generally, we want it quickly. We don’t have time to wait and often we don’t have time to talk to other people. If we do have to explain ourselves, we just might tend to get a little “huffy.” To us, it’s obvious what we want or need, so others should be able to see or know that without me having to explain it…right??!! Or at least that’s the thought process I’ve encountered within myself from time to time.
Well, just the other day I encountered a City of Mitchell Street Department person who was genuine, he put himself in my shoes, so to speak, and he even took the time to explain a situation to me. Here’s what was going on. The Street Department was doing some street repair and resurfacing up in the area where I live. The crews were in the final stages of the Chip Sealing process – I believe that’s what it’s called.
They were just putting down the final topcoat of an oil or tar like substance. Orange construction zone cones were set up blocking the street so no one would drive on the fresh oil and thus get it on their car. Well I didn’t realize this was going on. I left my home, driving my usual route to get to the church, but I ran into the orange cone barrier and the guy with the bright yellow/green safety vest. He made the motion with his finger that I needed to turn around and go around. Ohhhh mannnn!! I wasn’t expecting a detour. “How much out of the way is this going to take me? How late am I going to be? AAHHHHH!!” These were just a couple of the questions or thoughts that flashed through my mind in a second or two.
Then I noticed the Street Department guy was walking toward me. I had already started turning my car around but I stopped and rolled down my window so we could talk. He bent down and greeted me and then said, “Yeah, we’ve got some road work going on here. If you would just go back around, you can cross the road at Ohlman. I know it stinks and it’s not what you expected, but it’s (the road) not ready to drive on and we’re trying to keep oil off your vehicle.” Wow…a calm explanation, giving helpful information showing that what they were asking me to do was really for my benefit.
Something about that encounter really touched me. Maybe it was the humanity in it. I was treated like an valued human being…not just an interruption or problem in his day. And I hope that I treated him the same way. I told him I understood, thanked him, and we waved as I finished turning the car around and continued on my way.
I was reminded of the verse from the Bible – Proverbs 15:1-2. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” These are such great and wise words, especially for our day in which people so often unleash harsh and even mean-spirited words on social media and other forms of communication. All it does is foster more harsh words in response…and then no one ends up listening to the other. It just becomes a war of words and egos.
Today I’m grateful for our Mitchell Streets Department. The work you’ve done is good and beneficial. You’ve also reminded me of how to treat people today. Let’s treat one another as we really are…we are all valued human beings, brothers and sisters, sharing this journey of life together.