Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not Exactly an Angel

Guest blog by Patricia Crisafulli

The line at the bank was long and the tellers were few. With a tight schedule, I felt my impatience rise along with my indignity. Everywhere I looked young bankers strolled to and fro talking to each other. Didn’t they see the line? Didn’t they understand the concept of customer service?
As I waited my turn with two customers ahead of me, I was joined by a tiny older woman, white haired and stooped shouldered. She looked around through large soft eyes magnified by her glasses, no doubt wondering how long she would have to stand there.  When another elderly woman, well dressed with a smart hat, joined the end of the line, I thought for sure someone would notice. Then came Mr. Tall and Strapping, as I labeled him, who took his place behind Mrs. Soft Eyes and Mrs. Hat. He and I exchanged a knowing glance; we were comrades in indignation. Into the bank strolled a jolly older gentleman, walking stiffly with a cane. He stood behind Mr. Tall and Strapping.
By now my normally low blood pressure was spiking. All I needed was to catch the eye of one of these bankers to deliver a withering stare from my arsenal of dirty looks. Or, if the chipper fellow who greeted customers at the door with a “Happy Holidays” would just wander my way I’d give him a piece of my mind.
As my thoughts roiled, I could not see the opportunity that I was being given, especially as we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, to demonstrate religion as St. James described it, looking after orphans and widows in their distress. (James 1:27, NIV) Although I could not attest to the marital status of Mrs. Soft Eyes, Mrs. Hat, and Mr. Cane, metaphorically speaking here was my chance to show a little Christianity in action. Instead, I was too interested in finding fault with someone else (the speck in their eyes, as opposed to the log in mine).
When my turn finally came to make my deposit, my anger had cooled a few degrees; after all, the young woman at the teller window was not at fault. Yet I couldn’t resist pointing out that there were several older people in line, including a gentleman with a cane. She smiled graciously at me and asked me if I wanted to let them go ahead of me.
“Yes,” I said sheepishly, “that’s what I will do.”
I ushered Mrs. Soft Eyes to the teller and let Mrs. Hat ahead of me, too. Mr. Tall and Strapping told Mr. Cane to go to the head of the line.
In that moment I was given a gift, a chance to demonstrate my better self not only to the other customers but to myself. Yet, if it had not been for the teller who made the suggestion to me, I would have stayed with my angry indignation. Through her thoughtfulness she instructed me, reminding me of St. Paul’s words to Timothy to “correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. “ (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV)
As she left the teller window, Mrs. Hat turned and blew me a kiss as if I were some kind of “angel” who had come to her rescue. I felt completely unworthy to receive such a gift. Then again, aren’t we all if not for grace? It moves and inspires, and brings us up to all we are capable of being.

Patricia Crisafulli is a professional writer and published author, and founder of

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