Just when I'm starting to get really cynical about how rude and obnoxious some Jews can be (see post below), Hashem hits me over the head with something so nice that it can't go unnoticed. I think it's His way of telling me, "Helloooooo. My people are better than that--at least when they try!" And since I spend enough time complaining about how inconsiderate some people in some neighborhoods can be, I decided I should tell this story so I can share how GOOD people can be, too. :)
I was shopping in a kosher supermarket in Brooklyn, shlepping my little rolling suitcase with me because I was going to be going away for Shabbos right after. I wouldn't have normally made this stop, since it was a bit out of my way, but there were a couple of things I really needed to pick up, and it couldn't wait. The store was relatively crowded, what with it being erev Shabbos and all, so I decided not to take a cart and just hold the few things I was buying in my arms. At one point, I left my suitcase in a certain spot so I could dash around the corner and grab a couple things; it was easier to navigate without it rolling along behind me.
A little while later, having found all of the various items that I needed (and a couple I didn't), I was waiting in line...and waiting...and waiting. Even the express checkout had a long, slow line. And then, it hit me...I didn't have my suitcase with me! I dashed out of line, found my suitcase (it didn't surprise me in the least bit to find it exactly where I'd left it), and then did what any normal out-of-towner would do: went to wait my turn again at the back of the line. After all, I'd left the line, and therefore had lost my spot, right?
Wrong! This older Chassidish gentleman in front of me would have none of it! He took one look at me, with my suitcase and my armfull of groceries, and he said, "That's all you have?" I answered in the affirmative. "You're not waiting in the back of this line! You're going right to the front, you shouldn't have to wait for all of us!" Over my vocal protestations that I was in no rush and that I was fine with waiting, he went up to the people who'd been behind me at the front of the line and told them quite firmly that I was going to be coming back to the front. I reluctantly made my way forward, embarrassed as anything and blushing furiously, as he then asked the girl who'd been in front of me in line the entire time if I could go ahead of her. I protested again, since she really had no more to buy than I did, and she'd been waiting in front of me, after all! But she sweetly assured me that it was totally fine, and I should please go ahead.
Through all of this, there were no nasty looks, no annoyed mutterings, no rolling eyes or turning heads. Just friendly nods, assurances that it was indeed fine for me to go to the front of the line, etc. After getting me situated at the very front of the line with my items on the conveyor belt, with me thanking him and the girl behind me (who'd formerly been ahead) profusely, the old man turned around to everyone in line and said, "Everyone's fine with this, right?" And everyone nodded, smiled, and said it was really fine. Then, he turned and went back to his own place in line--at the very back.
I was really impressed and touched--this man had no idea who I was. Neither did anyone else in line. And yet, he went to the trouble of making sure I didn't have to wait again, even though I was prepared to pay that price for getting out of line. But no--he went to bat for me, intervening when I certainly wouldn't have done so for myself, and he wasn't prepared to let me sit back and wait. Not a single person had a problem with me going ahead, including the girl who was in front of me the whole time I was waiting. I walked out of that store with such a good feeling about the Jewish people that night--I phoned my mother and told her what had happened right after, because I wanted to tell her how happy it made me. And now I've told you, too. :)