Getting Out of Tickets

What do a UPS driver and a silver-haired man, my mom and a police officer, have in common?

On a hectic Monday, I was rushing back to my house from an early morning hike. Traffic was thickening. I was mentally preparing for my day of appointments, clients, phone calls.

The brown truck at the intersection carried a petite woman in the driver’s seat.  All business, her face set into determined concentration, she watched the traffic, judging the speed of oncoming cars, ready to mash the pedal.

She was dwarfed by the truck, by the height of the seat, by the size of the steering wheel. Slowing to make my turn, I waved, signaling that she could pull out safely in front of me.

With two hands she turned the giant steering wheel, but not before she returned my wave as a simple “thank you.”

She never made eye contact, her concentration never wavered, and still she waved “thanks.”

 A Fire

Something was burning, smelling hot, acrid.  I feared a fire in the attic. Concern escalated to worry, and then to panic. I didn’t dare pull the stairs down from the ceiling. What if the fire roared down the stairs to fresh oxygen and me?

The  911 operator told me to leave the house, but I couldn’t think.  I knew I should get something out, just in case, but had no idea what it should be, or where to find it.

My sister in California has an emergency satchel.  In her world of earthquakes and fires, she had the insurance papers, medical information, financial account numbers, and even the information on the cemetery plots, all packed and waiting in the coat closet.

I berated myself for not taking her advice.

With the sound of the fire truck roaring up my driveway, I did finally leave the house. It turned out to be only fluorescent light ballast melting, not the fire I feared.

Weak-kneed with relief I thanked the crew profusely and pressed a plate of fresh brownies into the hands of the captain.

 He Shocked Me

He said they are rarely thanked!

I can’t fathom not thanking someone who trains for the sole purpose of saving lives and property.

Let’s make that personal – My Life and My Property!

The chief said, “We are just doing our job.”

My little plate of brownies went to the fire hall, along with my appreciation for men as gracious and humble, as they are professional.

What was Lost

As I was growing up, my mother trained me to say thank you.

When I’m leaving a store, I thank the clerk, even if I didn’t require help. I simply appreciate that someone showed up that day so I could shop.  I thank the dentist, the waitress, the checker and the bagger.

Of course, Momma trained me to thank her for each meal even, and maybe especially, when I didn’t care for what she prepared.

Though it was her job, she expected her effort to be appreciated. These days, I expect my husband and children do the same for me.

As long as we have been married, my husband still thanks me for doing the laundry, and it still surprises and delights me!

I thank him for bringing me coffee each morning, for reminding me to take my thyroid pills and for taking out the trash.

When my mom was slipping into Alzheimer’s and her constant questions were frustrating my dad, I noticed that he stopped saying thank you. It felt like vital piece of respect was lost.

And That’s When It Happened!

On the same Monday that the UPS driver waved her thanks, the silver-haired man thanked me.  He thanked me for thanking him.

I paused at the cross walk for the approaching car. Yes, I had legal right-of-way, and I never totally trust that drivers see me or are willing to let me cross.  After all, I live in Nashville, a city of aggressive drivers, where signaling to change lanes is seen as a direct challenge.

I motioned that the driver needn’t stop for me.  After all, there was no other traffic; I could wait another two seconds while he passed.  He stopped his car anyway, and I hurried across.

You know by now that I waved and mouthed “thank you” out of habit, not giving it a second thought.

Standing at the checkout counter, that man approached me. And that’s when it happened.

He thanked me for thanking him.   He told me how rare it is that someone thanks him for stopping at a crosswalk, for doing what he is supposed to do.  He was so appreciative to see manners, to experience simple courtesy.

He told me I made his day. MADE HIS DAY!

And you know what – he made my day by thanking me for doing what I naturally do.

He affirmed that manners still count, that manners still make the day go a little more smoothly, that manners are a vital part of being civilized and living in community.

A Challenge

So I want to thank you for reading this, thank you for giving me a few moments of your time.

In the spirit of play, (because life is just more fun when we play, isn’t it?), I’ll suggest a game or an experiment for you.

See how many people you can thank today.  Make eye contact, hold their gaze and offer a smile. Watch their reaction, and notice how it makes you feel.

Am I taking this thank-you thing to far?

Maybe not.

Last year I thanked the cop that gave me a speeding ticket for being so nice about it. You better believe he was shocked!

Not a month later, I had the chance to thank another cop for not giving me the ticket I clearly deserved!

I had used the shoulder to scoot around stopped traffic and make my right turn onto a side street. I was in the wrong, admitted as much and commented that my daughter has advised me against such actions.

I was willing to take my lumps, and he found a way to let me off!

Make Your Day Go Better?

Take up my challenge and actively appreciate, smile, and thank people.

Set yourself in squarely in the middle of civilized society, do all you can to make the day go smoothly for yourself and everyone you encounter, and watch how life works better.

I imagine you’ll find yourself in the shorter lines, you’ll  make more green lights and you’ll be in the right place at the right time, more and more often.

You’ll rendezvous with the exact people you need and you’ll have more fun in the process.

You may even get out of a ticket.

Be sure to let me know what wonderful experiences you have with your thank you experiment.

Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Dianne Stanford
    1 year ago

    Lili, what a refreshing article! I’m in the choir, right beside you!
    A big hug from Di

    • Lili Hudson
      1 year ago

      Thanks Dianne! Attitude made all the difference in my day, and his probably!

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