Live by the Golden Rule

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

One stormy afternoon last week I headed into town for a hair appointment. With the rain coming down in sheets, I decided to leave home early in case our dirt road proved difficult to navigate.

I managed to make it in unscathed and early for my appointment. My gas gauge was dropping alarmingly low, so I headed to the Shell station on Ft. Dale to fill up 'Ole Blue', our truck.

The station was buzzing with activity. The only spot open was one of the pre-pay pumps. Since I was paying cash, I had to go in and wait in line to pay the cashier.

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Before I even got into the door, I could hear the strident voice of an unhappy customer.

He was complaining loudly about the fact his gas company credit card wasn't being accepted ("Why I use it all the time and this has NEVER happened to me…")

The frazzled-looking clerk, on duty alone, was doing her best to juggle getting some answers for the unhappy customer while helping the other customers.

For whatever reason, the card was not accepted. The customer finally gave the clerk another credit card, which did go through.

After signing the receipt (in the wrong place, as it turns out) then huffily re-signing and slamming the pen down, he proceeded to tell that poor clerk how unhappy he was with 20 minutes of his time being wasted, his children waiting out in the car…well you get the idea.

The cashier (who has waited on me several times and never failed to be polite and helpful) apologized to me for the wait.

"Hey, it's OK – things happen," I told her.

"He was blaming me but the card just wouldn't go through – I couldn't help that," she explained.

"I know – unfortunately you just happened to be the one here and handy to take his anger out on. Listen, you hang in there," I said, and gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile.

I took note of the out-of-state license plate of the angry gentleman as I headed out and was glad to note he was not from around here.

OK, maybe his kids were getting on his nerves. Maybe he and his wife had had an argument.

I don't know what put this guy in such a foul mood. I do know this – there was no excuse for a grown man to behave like a surly brat.

Kindness matters. So do good manners. And I don't care what kind of car you drive, home you live in or job you have (or don't have) – you can take the time and effort to be a polite and civil human being.

Let's all remember that, y'all.

Angie Long is the Lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate.

She can be reached or via mail at P.O. Box 507, Greenville, AL 36037.

Also, if you have a feature story idea, know a neighbor with a quirky hobby or someone who your believe needs some recognition, also give Angie a shout.