Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Setting an Example

I went for lunch with my teenaged nephew BB the other day.
He chose a restaurant in downtown Calgary,
and I agreed only because it was a holiday,
and I thought it would be easy to find parking.

We found a space in a privately-owned lot,
and then I tackled the automated payment system.

I slipped in my credit card,
then waited for selections.
Eventually, it offered several,
and I punched "holiday rate", expecting to get a cheaper-than-usual hourly rate.
Instead, I was charged $12 for our intended two hours of parking.

I wasn't happy, but it seemed there was nothing we could do to change it.
We waited for the machine to produce the receipt.
And waited some more.

I was getting a little hot under the collar
when a parking company employee drove onto the lot.

I quickly made sure to tell him exactly what I thought of his system.
I didn't yell, and I didn't use any words my mother would disapprove of,
but my tone left no doubt that his system stank.

To his credit, he immediately left his car,
helped me re-navigate the system,
and pay a more reasonable rate --
only $6 for two hours.

I expressed my concern (same polite words; same unmistakable tone)
that the system would now charge my credit card twice... or even more.

But again, there was nothing else I could do.

As we walked to the restaurant,
I was still muttering fiercely in the same unmistakeable tone.

But BB,
my young 16-year-old nephew,
who had listened to his "mature" auntie complain up one side of that system and down the other and then start all over again --
BB responded to me with words that were gracious and patient.

I pointed my finger at him and said, "YOU are showing a much better attitude than I am."
But I returned to my complaining a couple times more.

BB expressed understanding of my frustration
but was always gracious.

As he continued to respond gently and quietly,
I finally said,
"Okay -- I'm going to stop complaining now."

And, strangely, when I stopped complaining,
my attitude about everything else improved, too.

A couple thousand years ago, Saint Paul advised his young protegee, Timothy:
Don't let anyone look down on you because you're young.
But be an example in life, in love, in faith and in purity!

I guess the lesson is still current.

Thanks for the example, BB!

No comments:

Post a Comment