I let a man cut in front of me at a Subway restaurant the other day because I was being indecisive about what to eat. He thanked me, and then went on to make his order. When he was done and was about to leave, he thanked me again.
When I saw that he was ordering two sandwiches, I got angry. Why? It wasn’t like I suddenly figured out what I wanted. I was still deciding, and once I had, his second sandwich was already several steps ahead of me. The first time he thanked me, I just said “you’re welcome.” As he was leaving, he thanked me, and I merely nodded my head. I didn’t say anything, because the thought that entered my head was, how dare you order two sandwiches, you took advantage of my hospitality and got twice as much as I was expecting you to. It’s like when you let someone cut in front of you at the register in a grocery store and then her kids bring up a separate cart full to the rim.
But I had no reason to be angry at that man. In fact, I should’ve been touched that he felt the necessity to thank me a second time. As those thoughts came to me, I felt so ashamed of myself. What if he’s ordering an additional foot-long as a favor to someone? What if he’s bringing them home to feed his kids?
Another thought that came to me as he thanked me the second time, was that it was totally unnecessary. I wasn’t in any way inconvenienced by letting him go before me. What I did wasn’t something nice, it was merely practical. Then I thought, well maybe it was a big deal for the guy. Why must I undervalue my own good deeds towards others and yet make such a big deal out of the little things other people do that annoy me for no good reason at all?