I saw a billboard yesterday that gave me pause. Once I saw the sign, I realized that I had seen it before; but when I saw it before, it was on the wall of a grocery store instead of on a billboard.
The first time I noticed it (on the grocery store wall), I was standing in line waiting it to be my turn to pay for my groceries. I was standing in the 'I want someone else to scan my groceries' line instead of the 'scan the groceries yourself' line, when the clerk who was monitoring the self-checkout area invited me over there. She even told me she'd help me use the machines.
My response, pretty quickly, was something like “This line is fine ~ I'm not in a hurry”. She got a confused look on her face, and turned back to her work.
It was about fifteen seconds later that I saw the signs on the wall proclaiming 'Faster Checkouts' and 'Less Waiting' and 'Your Time is Valuable' ... or something like that.
Some days I don't really want to talk with anyone in the store, so I make it a point to use the self-checkout. Some days I feel like interpersonal interaction, or I don't feel like looking up the codes to all that produce, so I choose the clerk-operated line.
Sometimes I'm in a hurry and choose the quickest line; but most of the time, those 30 seconds that I save by rushing through the store don't actually matter by the time I get home (especially if I sit at the parking lot exit at a stoplight). And if I'd moved over to the quicker line, I'd have missed the opportunity to have a really pleasant conversation with the woman in line behind me.
Plus, what is it that we're all rushing so quickly to get to? Don't most of us just end up spending those extra seconds, maybe five minutes accumulated over the course of a day, surfing the internet or watching television?
I wonder if hurriedness, and its corresponding malady busy-ness, isn't a sign and manifestation of selfishness. Martin Luther pointed to the truth that the beginning of all sin is self-centeredness, or being turned in on ourselves.
When we are always rushing around, and when we're always busy, we are by default setting ourselves and our own agenda ahead of someone else's, and thereby dismissing the value of our neighbor.
Of course, I'm as guilty of this as many other people. But every so often, I remind myself to slow down by choosing the slower line at the grocery store, or by not trying to pass the slower car in the lane in front of me.
Speed and busy-ness have their place … but so does slowing down and recognizing the gift of the moment instead of rushing to the next one.