Yesterday I spent 30 minutes in a queue at the post office. I'd made the mistake of going at lunchtime to return a dress I'd bought online and found myself fuming as I waited in line.
Why can't they have more people on the tills? Why does it have to take 10 minutes for that woman to buy stamps? On and on my angry thoughts went, whipping me into such a mood, I started tutting and sighing out loud.
An elderly man in front of me turned around and smiled at me. "They have a lot of people to serve," he said. "We have to be patient." "Easy for you to say," I thought. "You don't have a deadline this afternoon."
But then I looked into his kind, watery eyes and saw that he was right. I was being a brat. The cashiers were doing their best. He told me he was sending a present to a friend who was dying. He himself was having surgery on his hip next week. He was nervous. I wished him the best. Before long we were both being served. We said our goodbyes and I left the post office not feeling angry for how long it had taken, but how lucky I was to have my hips and my health. It's amazing what happens when you take a minute to stop thinking about yourself and your deadlines and silly to-do list.
* Marianne Power is the author of helpmeblog.net