John and I were out running errands today on our bikes: trip to the studio, tai chi for him, bellydancing for me; trip to the bike store; trip to get groceries. It's been a typical, if chilly, spring here in Portland, which means patches of beautiful blue sky punctuated by rainstorms.
Today we got caught in a hailstorm. The back of my bike was uncovered; I stupidly didn't put the cover back on when we stopped. So we pulled under an eave, just long enough to put the cover on out of the hail. We weren't blocking anything and we weren't staying.
A man came charging out of the cargo bay in a physically threatening way yelling at us that it was not a parking lot, it was private property and to get the hell out of there. We replied that we were only putting a cover on out of the hail and we'd be on our way. He yelled, "If you're bike people I don't want you here, now get out before I call the cops!"
Now, technically he was within his rights. We were on private property. But it took him longer to yell at us than it would have for us to just put the cover on the bike and be on our way. And it may not have felt any better to him than it did to us. It would have been just as easy for him to be kind--easier. And faster.
"Sorry, you can't stop here."
"Oh, we're sorry, we're just putting a cover on, we're going right away."
"All right, but in future please don't stop here."
Even that would have been easier, and kinder in the middle of a sudden hailstorm.
It is easier to be kind. It feels better and it costs nothing. I remind myself of that every time I'm in a bad mood. I know there are people who could tell you that I don't always succeed. But I try to remember:
It's easier to be kind.