my grandmother was raising me in Stamps, Arkansas, she
had a particular routine when people who were known to be whiners
entered her store. My grandmother would ask the customer, "How
are you doing today, Brother Thomas?"
And the person would reply, "Not so good today, Sister
Henderson. You see, it's this summer heat. I just hate it. It
just frazzles me up and frazzles me down. It's almost killing
me." Then my grandmother would stand stoically, her arms folded,
and mumble, "Uh-huh, uh-huh." And she would cut her eyes at me to
make certain that I had heard the lamentation.
As soon as the complainer was out of the store, my
grandmother would call me to stand in front of her. And then she
would say the same thing she had said at least a thousand times,
it seemed to me. "Sister, did you hear what Brother So-and-So or
Sister Much-to-Do complained about?" And I would nod. Mamma would
continue, "Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over
the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they
will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything,
anything at all for just five minutes of this weather that person
was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining,
Sister. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is
change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about
it. Don't complain."
It is said that persons have few teachable moments in their
lives. Mamma seemed to have caught me at each one I had. Whining
is not only graceless, but can be dangerous. It can alert a brute
that a victim is in the neighborhood.
By Maya Angelou
from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty
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