Recently I experienced a vacation of a lifetime with my husband, his two brothers and a sister-in-law in Italy! It’s been our dream for a long time and this trip finally came to fruition. We enjoyed exploring this amazing country, popping into little shops and dining at quaint restaurants together. About halfway through our trip we reminisced about these various venues. Unable to remember names of the cafes nor our wait staff, we began nicknaming our servers to jolt our memories of the events. Have you ever done that?

One guy with glasses was The Hard-working guy who immediately moved tables around to accommodate the five of us. Another was The Family guy who lured us in with his friendly demeanor inviting us to dine in his restaurant because we were like family! He even took a selfie with us since we were family!

One waiter we referred to as Smiley, because he always smiled his charming, sweet smile when he waited on us. One guy was the Ogler, who blatantly ogled a woman as she exited the restaurant while he was serving us. No kidding! Another waitress had such a sad aura about her and she seemed so distracted. We felt so sorry for her that we prayed for her at the table. She became the Sad waitress.

We had Sweet Josie who was smitten with my husband as she thought he looked like Dr. House. She even asked if she could have her picture taken with him. She was adorable. Prince Charming met us at the train station to escort us to our water taxi in Venice. And Awesome Lady, the amazing store owner spent time helping us find the perfect sweaters!

We didn’t nickname anybody to make fun of them. Not at all. After all, they were working hard to serve us, but this was a way that would bring us all back to the same experience.

I began to wonder if people referred to me by nicknames and I felt immediately convicted. In Florence, our hotel stood in the middle of a block right on the river between two bridges. We had explored all day, walked for miles and I felt exhausted. I just wanted to get to my room and crash for a few minutes before dinner. Do you know that feeling? As we arrived at the block of our hotel, we found it barricaded and guarded by a Grumpy Guard saying a movie was being filmed in front of our hotel and we’d have to cross the bridge, walk on the other side of the river to the other bridge and enter from the other side. Seriously? That would be over a mile and the road would be blocked for 8 hours! I was shocked! Wasn’t there a hotel shuttle to assist us? A back door? Anything? I did not want to walk another mile just to get to my hotel when it was right in front of us!

We began our walk or rather stomp across the bridge as I called the hotel to tell them what I thought about this arrangement. As I recalled this event, I imagined I had been nicknamed The Ungrateful, Irate American by the hotel clerk, or even worse. Ouch! But I deserved it.

I felt such remorse over how I acted at this time. It was not the hotel’s fault. (It was actually a fabulous hotel in every way!) I could have called a taxi. I was simply tired and acted out. When we finally arrived back to the hotel and I had cooled down, we actually enjoyed front row seats to the movie shoot. Why couldn’t I have acted differently and not shown my rage? After all, I was in Italy and on vacation. Things could certainly have been worse. I made a mental attempt to gain nicer nicknames after that.

While we should not always worry about what people will think about us, we leave immediate impressions on those we meet. Are we blessing them or stressing them? Are we making their days better or worse? We may be remembered simply by how we acted or reacted in one situation. How do you want to be recalled by those you meet?

What do you think your nickname might be?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer to everyone. Colossians 4:5