Fast lane, here we come.
Recently my husband and I became card-carrying members of the Nexus club, the Canadian/US border’s version of a Disney Fast Pass.
Last week, we hopped in our car and headed south to catch a flight from Seattle to Minnesota to visit Bill’s mom. We calculated our travel time factoring in long weekend line ups, but with a knowing smile that we could now use the zip-on-through lane.
We left the house shortly after 7:00 a.m. and rounded the curve approaching the border, confidently taking the Nexus lane, passing by car after truck in the regular line up.
“Bill, it’s closed. There’s pylons up ahead.”
We shared an “are you kidding me?” look as our glee turned to humiliation. We were those people. But not on purpose. It was an honest mistake.
I rolled down my window and made eye contact with a 60-something woman in the white sedan beside us. “Would you mind letting us in the line, please?”
“No. Nexus doesn’t open until 8:00,” she replied.
“We didn’t realize that. This is our first time using the Nexus line,” I responded contritely.
“It’s every traveller’s responsibility to do research ahead of time and know the rules of Nexus,” she reprimanded sternly. “Back up.” With that she closed her window.
She was right, of course. It was our job to know the hours of operation of this new program, along with all of the other expectations.
And I don’t know what’s been happening in her life. Perhaps she is a border regular who sees people abusing the system and we were the last straw. Maybe she lost her job last month. For all I know, her dog could have bitten her right before she got in her car.
It’s also true that she has no idea the hamster wheel I’ve felt on these last couple of weeks. Researching Nexus specifics—when I already knew the general border hours—didn’t make my top ten things to do. It never crossed my mind.
But none of that matters because we tend to judge others on their actions and ourselves on our intentions. I know that. I teach that.
Yet, she got under my skin.
I confessed to Bill that I wouldn’t be sad if she got pulled in for questioning. He raised an eyebrow and I knew I needed an attitude adjustment. So what was going on that kept me from brushing off her unwillingness to make space for us?
Grace. There was no grace.
We weren’t trying to buck the system or budge into line to save time. We made an error and when I dared to reach out, I wasn’t only refused help, I felt shamed by a lecture dripping with condescension and superiority.
It’s been a good reminder to me that all of my interactions with people matter, and that I want to be one extending grace, not condemnation. I only hope that the line-lady encounters people who are willing to model kindness to her when she needs a break.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst