Last night, I traveled to the UPS Customer Service Center, where I had the opportunity to witness how quickly frustrated adults can start acting like children.
We had all been told to come pick up our packages at the warehouse office at 8:00 p.m. But what I didn’t realize until I arrived – what nobody realized – was that you don’t just show up, ask for your package, and leave. You get into a disorganized line of about 31 people and wait for a couple of hours until all the drivers return, sort through their packages, and try to find yours.
I was annoyed, but my nerves were calmed by a very professional, pleasant woman behind the counter. She was apparently the one person responsible for the office area; and part of her duties was maintaining order and sanity in the office as the customers became more volatile.
When I finally got to the counter, wrongly assuming that I was almost finished waiting, I said, “I just want you to know that your professional demeanor is helping me stay calm. I had no idea this was going to take so long – I actually needed to be somewhere 15 minutes ago.”
She smiled like a classy flight attendant on a crashing plane and said, “My goal is to get these packages to you. There’s no point in getting stressed.” Perhaps there wasn’t, but that didn’t stop folks from getting angry, threatening to leave, raising their voices at the lady, and cursing in their angry diatribes against her. She kept her cool for a long time, but then this one elderly woman with long, fake eyelashes finally got under her skin.
Time to Get Stressed
The old woman kept hanging over the counter, demanding to know where her package was and why UPS had told her to arrive at 8:00 p.m. if the package wasn’t going to be there. No amount of explaining seemed to satisfy the old woman, and then she took it up a notch and started mocking the UPS lady’s job.
“Maybe you need to step outside,” said the UPS clerk very firmly, pursing her lips together.
Oh no, I thought. You’ve been doing so well – don’t crack now.
“You want me to step outside because you don’t want to hear it!” said the old lady. “Now you tell me where my package is.”
The last of that calm beauty faded from the UPS clerk’s face and she said, “You’d better trust and believe that I’m not thinking about your package, ma’am. I am helping other customers.” And then, in a feat of surprise triangulation, she looked at the quiet customer in front of her and said, “Some people just don’t know when to quit.”
I’ve got to admit, I was a little disappointed. I know the clerk had been yelled at, threatened with complaints, and mocked over the course of the previous 90 minutes, but I really had my hopes up. I wanted to see her successfully stare down adversity with a smile until she cleared out that office, but she turned out to be as human as me.
A few days ago, my two little girls kept doing stuff to aggravate me and each other, and I was trying very hard to keep my cool. Finally, as we were driving through annoying DC traffic, they did something inappropriate that pushed me over the edge, and I raised my voice and hollered at them.
The car went quiet. I had silenced them with volume.
As I drove down Missouri Avenue feeling a little guilty, the quiet voice of my five-year-old daughter came from behind me, signing a song she learned at school: God is watching, God is watching, God is watching over us. When we wake up, when we wake up, God is watching over us.
What God Sees
The words of my child came crashing through my pride and irritation, and I began to wake up and realize that in that moment, God was watching me like I was watching the UPS clerk last night. He saw the annoying circumstances. He knew my temptation to snap – yet He was cheering me on, hoping I would choose graciousness in the face of aggravation. But like so many other times in my life, I forgot that He was there – I needed to open my eyes to the reality of His presence.
“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand” (Psalm 121:5).
“The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).
“The Lord watches over the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6).
“The Lord watches over all who love Him” (Psalm 145:20).
God is watching, He’s watching, He’s watching. I pray that we will wake up and respond to His loving gaze in those moments when it seems most impossible.
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