Under the influence

Last night after work, tired from a very full day, I stopped at the post office to mail a valentines package to someone very sweet. There was a gentleman using the self-service machine there in the after hours lobby, dressed in an understatedly chic style that made him seem to be somewhat superior. He was taking quite a long time, having some sort of technical difficulties and I found myself becoming increasingly impatient with the wait. The machine continued beeping loudly at him several more times until the man gave a sigh of annoyance and surrendered in defeat.

As he walked away he made a parting derogatory remark in a beautiful French accent. Maybe it was the accent or that he looked to be more distinguished than the typical SoCal locals. I made a mental note of giving him a free pass for that French attitude of his.

Finally getting my turn I noticed straight away that the equipment I’d used so many times at this local branch of the USPS had been replaced by a similarly looking yet upgraded model. As I began the usual process the new bossy machine started giving me grief. I quickly went from impatient to flustered to resentful. The darn machine refused to cooperate! But. was it this inanimate piece of metal and circuitry or was it the growing frustration in me? I took a breath and realized that my approach to this machine was under the influence of the lovely but disgruntled Frenchman. The subtlety of his protest and the sheer fact that he was a rather suave “international” type granted me license to adopt his stance oh so easily. If he’d been sloppily dressed, swore loudly, and kicked the machine for good measure I would have criticized the user instead of the equipment. But I fell under the influence of this Frenchman.

My take away from that brief postal encounter was this: we are daily under the influence of the people we’re around. The everydays and the briefly encountered. The culture, the society of our times. So subtle, so affecting. This is also true — those around us are daily under OUR influence. Our kids, our coworkers, and even our brief encounters with others in line at the post office. Why not realize we’re influencers in the everyday smalls of life and be intentional about swinging the people in our atmosphere toward the light?


PS: My dinner of steak, beets, and pan roasted Brussels sprouts was outstanding!

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