complaining woman, don't complain unless you are willing to volunteerWhen my daughter was in first grade she participated in an after school soccer program. It was a free program held weekly for twelve weeks. Her coach was a volunteer mom who worked full time in Philadelphia, 45 minutes from the elementary school. Practice began at 6:00 PM which gave us time to have dinner and meet back on the soccer field.

Soccer practice went well for the first five weeks. On the sixth week, the volunteer coach was ten minutes late. I noticed that some of the moms were impatient. The following week, she was almost half an hour late. The kids didn’t notice because they were having fun kicking the soccer balls, but the moms sure did.

Ginny and I were standing at the edge of the soccer field watching our children play.  A few feet from me I noticed one woman was particularly agitated. As every minute passed she got more and more impatient. She barely let her friend get a word in edgewise while she kept up a running barrage of complaints about how annoyed she was with her child’s soccer practice. In a loud voice she said “and the coach doesn’t even bother to respect our time and get here when she’s supposed to.”

Her rude comment bugged me but I kept my mouth shut. I felt uncomfortable listening to her rant and began to move away as Ginny leaned toward the irritated woman. “You know, it’s possible that the trains are running late, or an emergency happened at work. Really, it’s impolite to complain about someone who is willing to volunteer unless you are willing to volunteer yourself.”

The woman’s face hardened as she realized that someone had just called her out on her bad manners. She raised her chin, said “Hmmph”  and walked briskly toward the parking lot.

Ginny’s comment reminded me of the times I had been judgmental and I felt embarrassed too. Her comment helped me take a greater step towards patience and understanding of other’s situations.

It was a wake up call to remind me that most people try to do their best and complaining is counter productive.

I am a much kinder person now because my first thought is to wonder what might be going on in someone’s life.

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What is your first thought when someone doesn’t seem to be doing what you feel they should?

Were there times in your life when you complained about someone’s actions, only to learn that they were dealing with difficult situations in their personal life?

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5 Responses to If You Aren’t Willing to Volunteer, Don’t Complain

  1. Susan Cooper says:

    I can relate to this. It’s easy to point fingers when you’re not one to help. They see it as their job, not a volunteer situation. The fact is the biggest complainers are usually the worst at offering help. It helps to remind them that the individual they are complaining about is offering up there time and energy without compensation, that a little understanding and kindness would be more appropriate. 🙂

  2. Bethany Lee says:

    This hits me right on target right now cause even yesterday I was starting to think negatively about someone. As I thought it, a memory of something Deepak Chopra had said came to mind: everyone you talk to is you. The idea is that every person in your life is a reflection of you and if you are having a problem with them, you should look internally at the problem that is really “you” and see what it is and fix it. Deepak reminds us that remembering this is a way to have greater compassion on others. As I was thinking the negative thought about that person (as I was driving my car), I remembered this idea and I started thinking about how that person was a reflection of me. Deepak was right, in my heart and mind, I felt compassion rise up because I started to understand the person differently.
    Good post.

  3. Wendy says:

    I’ve never heard the phrase “everyone you talk to is you”. It’s a great reminder to treat others as we want to be treated.

    Imagine if all the children of the world learned this at an early age…

  4. Bindhurani says:

    Hi Wendy,
    Something was compelling me to visit your site today. Your name was coming to my mind and I can’t find a particular reason for that.
    The post is very interesting. I had a hard time on myself to keep focussing on my shop. People very close to me are repeatedly telling me how I cannot make a living by making and selling crochet. It is kind of making me down.
    I am thinking of your story. I don’t use to judge people. I will be more kinder. Also, subscribed your blog, so I will be notified when you have a new post.

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