Life Lessons from a Toothpaste Tube

Interesting story. My sister and my mom went grocery shopping yesterday in Hilton Head, and in the process of checking out, they struck up a conversation with the lady ringing them up. She mistook my sister for me (a very common mistake), and told them the story of how Brian and I had spoken with her about five days earlier. She remembered everything from the clothes we were wearing to all of the details of our conversation. But what she remembered most was how Brian was so attentive to me. We had stopped in to grab some wine for the family on our way to the house and I had decided to pick up some toothpaste while we were there (primarily because the TSA agents had decided my toothpaste was a matter of national security and had thrown it out…). Annoyed.

Anyway, as she was ringing us up, Brian noticed I had grabbed a brand of toothpaste that I don’t normally use. He made an off-handed comment about it–in my mind, it was a mixture of curiosity and irritation that I had not been a better equipped traveler, but to this lady, he had just hung the moon. He had taken the time to notice a hiccup in my routine, however minute the modification. And obviously the impression of how well he observed me and my tastes in toothpaste had stayed with her days later.

It made me think. Had my mom and sister not called me laughing at the sweet and simple exchange, I would never have thought of it again. It would never occur to me that Brian and I discussing something as silly as toothpaste would have left an impression on someone. But what a great reminder! I will not soon forget this story for two reasons. First, I was taught to always “treat people how I would like to be treated”. And I really do make a concerted effort at this. But when I think of the Golden Rule, I often think of the lady that rings me up at the grocery store, or the waiter who has way too many tables, or the Gate Agent during an obnoxiously long weather delay. I try to treat these people well; to respect them. But this story has made me realize it’s not just how I act towards them, but around them as well. How I treat the people nearest and dearest to me. So often, it is easy to take frustrations, stress, or a bad day out on the ones I love—Brian, Mom, Abbie, etc. But that is wrong. Just because I know they love me, just because I know they’ll understand, does not mean they deserve less respect than the stranger at the airport or the grocery store. In fact, practicing kindness, consideration and patience should start with the people I love, the people closest to me.

And secondly, this story has reinforced to me what I already know. I DO have an amazing and attentive husband. I may not have gushed over him remembering my toothpaste preference, but it is a very good reminder of how well he does treat me. After being gone for nine days, I came home to a car filled with gas and cleaned inside and out. My laundry was done, the bills were paid, the house was cleaned and the trash was….still in the house. With maggots all over it. HAHA! Ok, he is not perfect, but perfect for me. And I am SO thankful for how well he treats me, how well he understands me, and how much he encourages me to be a better person.

So now, every time I look at my toothpaste, I’ll remember just how blessed I am with the family and friends I have in my life, and just how well they all deserve to be treated.

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