Yesterday, Mrs. G. pulled into a crowded grocery store parking lot, hoping the parking gods would be good to her. She cruised around the lot for a few minutes and finally saw a car pulling out. She pulled up safely behind the driver and waited.
As Mrs. G. tolerantly waited for the man to pull out of the spot, this happened...
A woman sped across the parking lot and took the space Mrs. G. had been waiting for for at least five minutes.
Mrs G. didn't lose it, but she stayed put, a few feet from the woman's car. Mrs. G. turned off her engine. She wasn't going anywhere.
The parking spot thief didn't get out of her car. She sat there for at least ten minutes, and Mrs. G. is fairly certain the woman was afraid to get out of her car and was waiting Mrs. G. out, figuring Mrs. G. would lose interest and go find another spot.
Mrs. G. just sat there. She was perfectly calm.
When the woman finally got out of her car, Mrs. G. rolled down her window and said, "Did you not notice me sitting her for five minutes waiting for this parking spot?"
Tight lipped, the woman responded, "No, I didn't. I didn't see your name on it."
Mrs. G, still unruffled, asked, "Are you familiar with humanity? Do you understand civilization?
Confused, wary, the woman said, "Look, do you want this spot? I'll move."
Mrs. G. shook her head and drove away to find another parking place.
Perhaps it's Mrs. G's age or life experience, but some days she feels like society is declining, devolving -- as if the buttons holding the world's fabric together are popping off one by one.
She has always held that it is the simple things that can buttress a civilized society: taking the grocery cart back to the front of the store; smiling at people you pass; holding the door open for the person behind you; being kind to children; helping a fellow flyer jam his bag into the crowded overhead storage compartment; treating cashiers with respect; Helping a short person reach the top shelf; buying a financially strapped friend a beer; putting your phone away when visiting with friends -- these little things keep us loosely laced together, comfortably united.
All of these seemingly insignificant acts that keep us bound and fastened take seconds. And yet when they are abandoned or ignored, the seconds, fast forwarded, add up to years. And these years can make the world feel wobbly, apathetic, like the sky could fall as quietly as an unmoored circus tent.
The solution is easy and free: be nice. Or if that's a stretch, be nicer.