Fighting to be lighting

I was out with my son looking for a car wash, found a place. It advertised on the road gas was 3.19 p/gallon 3.09 with a carwash
okay that's 10 cents more than the 76 down the street but it had a car wash.

I paid cash, to get a discount which didn't exist at this station, and buy a car wash, go pump, 3.19 at the pump. WHAT? should be 3.09

So I go inside, to the cashier and I explain the issue, she owes me $1.30 she overcharged me a dime per gallon.

Here went the conversation:

me: "the pump charged me 3.19 your sign says 3.09 per gallon with car wash, and I bought a car wash.'
her: "oh I don't know." blinks at me.
me: (still calm) "I know, you owe me $1.30 because you over charged me."
her: I'm sorry sir, I don't know how to make the machine charge you that.
me: (accepting the apology) "that's fine, just refund me the $1.30 and it'll be okay."
her: "I can't do that sir, I'd get in trouble."
me: (starting to get incredulous, but still maintaining calm) "Okay... well, then perhaps upgrade me to a better car wash?"
her: "Sir I can't do that, I'd get in trouble if I gave you a free car wash."
me: (temper is growing) "And you won't get in trouble for stealing $1.30 from me?"
her: "I'd get in trouble for that too, would you like to talk to my supervisor? They can fix this, I don't know how to use the computer."
me: (maintaining my calm but torn between wanting to be angry and wanting to give grace) "Yes then, please, can I talk to them."
her: "They come in on mondays" (three days away and I'm clear across town)
me: (surprised) "Well you know I won't be coming back in 3 days, clear across town to argue over $1.30. Can I have their business card?"
her: "No sir, he doesn't have one."
me: "Can you give me an email address or a phone number?"
her: "No sir I don't know it."
me: (feeling lied to, hot, upset, I decide it's not worth ruining either of our days over, so I accept it and reply calmly) "Well ma'am, I think you should take the time to learn how to work the computer, or take that sign down. And you should know, I won't be returning here."

I realize that if they do this a few times a day, that's a nice little side hustle. But in the off chance she was a single mom, who never said 'when I grow up I want to be a gas station attendant' and who was just trying to get by in life, I decided it wouldn't be prudent or even helpful to read her any 'riot act' or lose my temper on her... not over $1.30 and yet, the desire was there to do so anyway. I fought it down.

In the San Jose, CA area I'm finding that people are rude, incompetent, selfish, inconsiderate. It's always been this way, but I've been around the opposite for so long that it's a bit of a harsh awakening. I fully believe in being the CHANGE I want to see, so I go around being polite and talkative, and I don't dismiss people when they say 'hi'. And I don't act all creeped out by strangers greeting me, instead I return it.

Yesterday at a theatre, the cleaning guy as we left said 'you all have a good day!' and I replied 'Hey! Thank you! You too!' and it looked like I caught him off guard in that I noticed him and acknowledged him, and so he replied "You're welcome!", in a surprised tone like "hey, I'm not invisible!"

I walked into a Walgreens and the very young cashier had no idea what to do with me.

After waiting a long time for a very old lady to pay in pennies and gather her items, I was finally at the cashier. It was one of those movie moments where the lady was counting out pennies and it took forever. My patience was thin already, because out in the 100 degree weather was my wife and daughter with our lunch, in the car, waiting for me.

her: "How can I help you sir?"
me: "I'd like to get these batteries"
her: "Will that be all"
me: (curtly-with that tone of -I'm in a hurry-) "yes"
her: "That'll be 10.91 sir."

I hand her a 20, she realizes she has no ones to return to me, calls her manager over, while she does that I say:

me: "here's 11 dollars."
she blinks at me and pauses
her: "What's this for sir?"
me: "hand me back the 20 I gave you and take this."
she blinks at me again and then looks at her supervisor and says
her: "I don't know what you want me to do."
the supervisor begins to say 'give him his 20 back. and 9 cents., but I didn't hear him saying it and spoke over him.

me: (as if speaking to a young confused child, with a gentle calm voice trying not to sound patronizing) "Hand me back that 20, take this 10, and this 1."
her: "No sir it's all okay, I'm just going to have Russ get me more ones if you don't mind waiting."
me: (very direct without anger) "That's the point, I do mind waiting. I'm sorry but I need to be going."

At which point I took the 20 laying in her confused palm, dropped the $11 and said 'keep the change, have a nice day.' and left.

I felt instantly guilty. I wasn't rude, I wasn't angry, but in this day and age, being curt is taken as confrontational and angry. It's not like I left her saying 'gee what a lovely person that was! Christ must be flowing through them! I think I want to know more about this Christ! I think I'll go to church on Sunday!"

It is so hard to be polite and share love and grace in the face of all of this.... what do I even call it, "unapologetic ineptitude"? "total self-centeredness?". I mean just trying to teach my daughter to drive on these streets I have to tell her 'people don't care about you or the law, they do insane things all the time, so watch out, constant vigilance!"

I keep thinking about transition and culture shock and how Christ must have had a huge "culture shock"... when He became human.

We must have seemed so crass and unloving to Him.

I try to be a little bit of light everywhere I go. It isn't easy. But you can see when others are trying as well. Now that we're in the U.S. for a short bit, the words to an old gospel song ring true in my ears:

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me with heaven's open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."