Last weekend we checked into a hotel in Barcelona, and came across a very, very tense young lady working at the check in desk. She didn’t agree with an aspect of our booking, something we had agreed with the guy that had taken our booking on the phone a week before.
Basically we had a two-bed ‘twin’ room for three of us – my wife and I would share a ‘single’ bed, and our son would have the other. Because the twin beds are huge, and every time we order a supplementary bed for our son, he ends up in one of the single ones, we end up in the other, and the cost of the supplementary bed is wasted. So we booked a twin room for the three of us, no extra bed.
The lady at the desk was not happy about this. Hotel policy dictated that as our son is over 2, everyone had to have their own bed. She began to get more and more fraught and uptight as we explained our position, and that we weren’t about to change our booking and pay more.
My initial reaction was defensiveness, which naturally turns into returned agression, but then I stopped and looked at her for a moment and saw that she was just incredible tense. I thought that maybe she had good reasons to be very stressed that day, and that me getting cross with her was not going to help. Who knows what it was? Her jaw was as tense as a two clamped iron girders.
What was going on in her life to make her so stressed? At home? At work? What could I do to not add to that? So I calmed down and smiled and breathed deeply, and pretty soon we resolved everything, and when I saw her later that day, she was smiling in a friendly way to us.
This is simply about a big realisation that I had in that moment. That we never know what’s going on in people’s lives that can make them difficult for us to deal with. But when we understand how tricky situations in our own life, families, work etc can make us stressed and hard to be with, it’s easy to transpose that understanding onto other people.
Yesterday I came across this quote, that sums it up pretty perfectly:
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind.”
Well, maybe not everyone is fighting a battle all day long, but everyone that’s having a bad day, or making your life difficult, probably is lost in some background suffering of one kind or another. It might be small, it might be huge. We just don’t know. The least we can do is to breathe deeply and be kind back to them.