I remember being 17 years old and giving my father a ride somewhere when he came to town to visit from Texas. I needed to fill my gas tank.
I said, ďOh, Iíll just go to this one, itís three cents cheaper.Ē
My dad, who isnít one to give an abridged version of most things Ė and he knows a lot about a lot Ė rationalized how in the grand scheme of everything, the few cents Iíd save didnít really matter.
Am I made of money? Absolutely not. I pay my bills and have enough left over to occasionally make a two-day trip to New Hampshire. But do I even look at the price of gas before I decide where to fill up? Not a chance. Two cents here, two cents there.
I choose to go where itís convenient, friendly, and fast. It always turns out to be the same location, except for my most recent visit.
My days are full of tasks Ė I donít just sit in front of a computer screen and respond to emails. Occasionally I get a call that requires me to leave the office to cover something because the staff writers are all at interviews. This was the case the other day. I had to make it somewhere by 2:45 p.m.
Before I could go, I had to stop at a gas station. The same one I go to daily. Town of Norwich, super courteous staff, hardly ever a wait.
I grabbed a couple Mt. Dews (this writer canít drink black coffee in the heat), and proceeded to the register. In front of me was a woman who was trying to save a couple cents on her fuel purchase. There was something wrong with the transaction, but I wonít go into details for the sake of brevity. The clerk had to call a number in an attempt to resolve the situation.
I looked at my phone, and saw the time. I had waited six minutes. There were at least two other people behind me. I put back the soda and left. No time.
Now believe me, I understand how rough times are, and that money is tight. But I would have gladly offered the patron the 67 cents that was trying to be saved on the purchase in exchange for speeding up the line. Even if the customer was trying to save $12 Ö I would have helped you out. Thatís my style. Once I looked at my clock though, it was too late and I had to roll.
Generally, if Iím in a hurry, youíre having a rough time, itís a win/win to help out a stranger save some loot, if that was her intention Ė regardless of whether or not I could really spare it.
On another note, when a person is trying to make it through a narrow spot and says, ďExcuse me,Ē itís probably courteous to step out of the way slightly, making the close encounter easier for all involved.
That stems from a different gas station interaction, when Ė in close quarters Ė an individual was asked politely to move a tiny bit, and in response decided to give a look of disgust, as though taking two steps forward or backward was a major inconvenience.
Maybe she was having a bad day, and thatís okay, because we all do. But Iíve found that smiling at strangers, being friendly, holding doors, and moving out of the way (including your own way), are important in life.
One more thing. If youíre walking across the main intersection in Norwich with your baby and stroller in tow, I beg of you to please either pay attention to the lights that tell you when it is safe to cross, or learn common sense.
A 3,000-pound vehicle would do extensive damage to a tiny human. I would hope parents Ė ages 14 to 49 Ė would exercise caution while transporting their offspring. I have seen four close calls in the last two days. If you donít know how to properly cross the street, I genuinely question your parenting abilities.
As for my father, he would have moved out of the way when asked, and made sure that my sister and I knew that it was the polite thing to do the same. If we were on foot as little tykes downtown with him while he was up visiting, he let the sister and I fight over who got to push the button for the ďitís safe to crossĒ light, and explained to us the common sense rules about crossing. He also probably wouldíve paid the difference to the woman at the gas station having a rough time with her card, just to get everyoneís life moving again.
And my two cents, I think Iím kind of like my father.