The other day, I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for my two sons. I had set it up a month earlier at this opportune time when I could accomplish two checkups at once and with no one missing school. I based my whole day’s schedule on this. I had much work and housework to make up for not doing over yom tov and therefore opted to stay home instead of going out that night. If not for the doctor’s appointment, I could have done more work in the day instead.
So, we rush out to the doctors. Naptimes and lunchtimes are all messed up to make it on time. We get there and they call me over to tell me they don’t have us listed. In 8 years of going to this practice, this has never happened to me. I was ready to flip. “I made this appointment a long time ago. Do you think I came here for fun? What am I supposed to do now, make him miss school for another appointment?” And as they checked and rechecked their computer, really more to try and make me feel better than for any practical purpose at this point, I stopped myself. Besides the higher level knowledge that “gam zo l’tovah” — this is all for the best and part of Hashem’s Divine plan, I at the least resort to a Kiddush Hashem approach that it is better to act in a dignified manner, especially in front of gentiles.
I have seen many instances of this type of confrontation gone awry. I remember once at the library, a nicely dressed woman was fighting with the librarian over a book being overdue and/or a page being ripped. The librarian wanted to charge her a dollar. I had seen the woman drive by in her Lexus and it did not seem this dollar would prevent her from buying lunch. But it was the principle of the matter and she made quite a stink and refused to pay. They put a note in her file. The episode lasted a few minutes. The stories that the gentile librarians will tell about “Those Jews” will last much longer. Was it really worth bringing down their opinion of Jewish people to insist that your book wasn’t late and you don’t owe a dollar? I would have suggested she give the dollar and say though she did not rip the page, she will gladly give a donation to the library for their wonderful service to the community.
My husband sometimes finds a hostile audience when he tried to convince others not to double park and not to block our driveway. He has said that if he weren’t frum already, if he saw something like this, he would not have become frum. Luckily, he had wonderful mentors who also reminded him to not judge Judaism by the Jew.
But non Jews base their whole opinions of Jews on their own experiences and hearsay stories. The opposite argument might be that this “not making waves” approach is a “ghetto mentality.” Firstly, the “ghetto mentality” is a secular concept and we must honor anyone and everyone who survived the ordeals of rampant anti-Semitic actions. Those who kept quiet and those who fought openly. In America, there are plenty of respectful, decent ways to “make waves” in a dignified manner. Jews are highly involved in political causes, writing letters, protesting, donating, and, of course, voting. You can make your voice heard but avoid the expletives and embarrassment.
So, I tried to do just that at my not-meant-to-be doctor’s appointment. I explained to my confused children that there was a mistake. Sometimes computers make mistakes and now we can go for pizza and the park. We had a wonderful day and hopefully made a good impression in the process as well.