I had an interesting conversation the other day. Realizing that I was low on a few things such as... oh... food and such, I decided a quick run to Wal-Mart was in order. It was a nice weekend afternoon as I drove to the store and pulled into their huge, industrial-sized parking lot. Most other drivers were behaving as usual, which is to say driving like pro-frontal-lobotomized lunatics. Since I had nothing else to do really, and nowhere else to be, I decided to take a different approach – I decided to take my time.
I turned into a parking area along side the side of the store (where there tends to be lower traffic and fewer cars) and quickly spotted an open parking space not too far from the front of the store. As I turned the steering wheel to pull into the one spot, I noticed a man walking through the open spot. He had his car keys in his hand and appeared to be heading towards the truck parked in the next spot. I also noticed that the man was wearing a sweatshirt with an EMS logo on it. The truck also had a similar logo on the rear window, so I felt my assumptions were confirmed. Instead of whipping into the spot, I paused and waved the man to safely cross and get into his vehicle. He smiled politely and waved. After he got in his truck and closed his door, I pulled into the spot and got out of my car. As I started to walk away, I heard the man call out to me.
“Hey...” he said, “Thanks for letting me cross. Lots of people wouldn't have done that, ya know? Everyone's always in such a hurry these days.”
Since it was such a nice day and since I really had nowhere else to be, I walked over to his truck, sat on the hood of my car and talked to the man for a while. Turns out he had just started a small ambulance business with a partner (hence the EMS symbols on his shirt and truck). I was sympathetic to this, having worked as an EMT myself for years. We talked for a while, about the nature of his business, helping people, and how rude people seem to be these days in general. We exchanged business cards (I run a small home repair business) and went our separate ways.
Sure, I could've just whipped into that parking space, as no doubt many other people would have, cutting the man off, startling him and making him pause, but I didn't. And I'm glad I didn't. Taking my time led to a pleasant conversation with someone whom I otherwise would probably never have met.
I lost my full-time job a few months ago and have spent a lot of time re-evaluating things since then. Sometimes it's nice to take things slowly, look around more and be nice to people. You never know who you'll meet...