If you read my post a few weeks back, Ebola, Bombs and Christmas? you’ll know that I’m trying this year to do Christmas a little differently. Nothing majorly radical, like ditching the Christmas tree or stockings (life wouldn’t be worth living!), but trying to keep a limit on that most powerful of Christmas spirits, the spirit of Over Spend and her brother, Ridiculously Over Busy, or Rob for short.
I know. It’s a serious battle to keep them at bay. The TV, radio, social media are all yelling at us to make everything perfect, home-made, up to the minute, and now! Suzanne from 3childrenandit told us last week just how much she’s struggling with it all too.
But yesterday I got a chance to silence those loud and rambunctious spirits, and took 15 minutes out of my day, and £4.15 out of my purse to buy four cups of tea for the car wash guys in the Sainsburys car park.
Now before you mistake this post for a ‘blow my own trumpet’ thing, forget it. I’m writing this for the downright simple reason that what I did was so easy, yet meant a lot. We CAN do this, ladies! (and the few guys who are what I call Chief Christmas Organisers – a rare breed indeed)
You see, last week, I’d been dashing through that same car park, with my usual short time slot to grab something before collecting the kids from school. It was a freezing cold day, and as I drove around looking for a free bay, one of them threw me their usual gesture, asking if I wanted my car washing. His face was particularly grim that day, the cold probably biting hard. I’ve only once had my car washed there, and the guy was from Nigeria. This one looked East European. If his pay was anything like as low as I’ve heard it to be on some radio 4 programme I heard a while back (it must be true then!), this was one tough day for him.
And so this thought ran through my head to buy them all cups of tea to warm them up and most of all, to show that someone cares enough to bother to do that. But I just couldn’t then. Really. I’d be stupidly late for the kids, not just a bit late. Usual business, never enough time.
But then I thought, hang on, if I am serious about being generous to others this Christmas, about showing what Christmas means to me (the giving of time, showing kindness and showing others that they matter) this is one very small way to do it. And I’ve found in life that its often the little things that make a difference….
So I thought to myself, I could make the time between now and Christmas to come back, when I’m next doing my shopping.
So, yesterday I was back in that Sainsbury’s car park (I seem to be there rather a lot lately), and I asked one of them to wash my car, as it needed a good wash anyway (one of the delights of being a Football Mum I’ve discovered is getting your car filthy with mud when parking next to the pitch).
After we’d settled on the service and price, I asked him if he wanted a cup of tea, and did all the others drink the same?
“Yes, please, that would be nice” he said in a thick accent of some East European origin. I’m not bad at picking accents, but this one I couldn’t decipher.
So, after my shop, I went back to the cafe, got the 4 teas, grabbed a load of sugars, and teetered my way back to the car, one hand on the trolley, the other carefully and rather precariously carrying the heavy-laden cup holder, balanced on my palm. Ah, interesting one that! But I made it – lets just say it was good for my right arm muscles and trolley negotiation skills.
On reaching the car, I found one gleaming, super polished car and the car wash guy finishing off the last touches. After putting the tea on his trolley thing, as requested, his ‘colleague’ came over and helped himself, and threw me a big beaming “Merry Christmas!”
As I loaded my shopping, I had a quick chat with him, and found out that he’s from Romania and has lived here 6 years. He didn’t look much younger than me so he must have kids to feed. I told him I’d been to Romania so we chatted a bit. And then I made my way home, watching him trundle his trolley over to his other colleagues for a tea break.
“I should be a car park car washer,” quipped the friendly man in the cafe, who had served me the tea. “I’d get a free cup of tea then!”
Hmm. I’m not sure the odd free cup of tea would quite make up for cleaning those cars in all weather for little reward. But I got his point 😉 (and no, I didn’t buy him a cup of tea!).
Wasn’t it mere shepherds, the least revered in ancient Palestinian society, the nobodies, the invisible, who were the first to be told of the arrival of God’s son? As I drove off, I wondered if by buying these guys a cup of tea, it went some tiny way to show that they’re not invisible either…..