I was delighted to note that there were a couple of open parking spots in the small lot behind the medical building. Swinging the steering wheel to position the car for the closest spot, I realized the space was partially blocked. A heavyset woman was standing by the adjacent van with the driver’s door wide open. She didn’t look like she was going anywhere soon, so I put the car into reverse, thinking to myself how thoughtless some people can be, just standing there taking up space when other people are trying to park.
After parking the car in another spot, I walked into the building to pick up my daughter from her appointment and then came back out to the lot. The woman was still standing by her car. Before we left, I glanced in her direction again. Something didn’t look right. When I asked if she needed help, I realized she was close to tears. She had been trying—God knows how long—to climb into her van, but her right hip was full of bursitis and she couldn’t lift her leg high enough to get her bulky frame into the driver’s seat.
She had been too embarrassed to ask for help even though she was distressed and in a lot of pain. How, she wondered, was she ever going to get into her car and get home? Then she mentioned that she had just seen her doctor, whose office was in the medical building I had just left. With her permission, I alerted his nurses and they came out to help.
I felt sorry for her, aware of how distressing her situation must be. But I was glad that I had been able to render a small service. Afterward, I reflected on how quickly I had concluded that the woman was rude when she had actually been afraid and in pain. What if I had just driven off with my original judgment intact?
My experience that day made me wonder how often I make snap judgments that bear no resemblance to reality. Such judgments prevent us from noticing the troubles of others. They can create a cloud of negativity rather than an environment where peace can flourish.