I had a teachable moment this morning. I was on my way to work. On the train I was working on my laptop, writing a rebutall to the asinine, wrong, and wrong headed coding policies some of my colleagues are trying to get accepted as coding standards within the company. This is a stressful activity to me, and gets me fairly
tense and agitated internally.
As the train halted at my stop, I stood back and waited for a man to help a woman get her baby carriage off the train. I was slightly miffed when someone standing next to me took this as an opportunity to shoulder between me and said carriage in order to et off the train faster. In this tense, agitated and slightly miffed frame of mine I took the first stair off the train. A young man was trying to shoulder his way up the train despite the fact that there were
still a number of people debarking the train.
Because of my frame of mind, I guess I was feeling a little confrontational. I certainly felt some anger well up in my chest as I put my hand on his chest and said (in english) “you should wait until everyone is finished getting off the train”. I was tensed and ready for a confrontation.
Instead, the young man said “Oh entschuldigung, thank you” and stepped back off the train. My first reaction was guilt and shame for being so angry at such a nice man. My second was relief that I hadn’t been ruder or more confrontational. If he has a generous heart (and evidence would indicate that this is the case), he might interpret my actions as firm but polite, even if I was being an confrontational asshole on the insde.
My final reaction was a warm feeling of gratitude. The gentleman in question behaved exactly as I strive to behave (even though I was behaving badly). Often when I preach that kind of behavior, I’m told I’m naiive or idealistic. So it was
nice to have an encounter where another person to behave exemplary.