We’ve had a run of beautiful weather this spring, with abundant sunshine and a few days that were downright summery.

Driving along one warm day last week, I had my windows open because my car’s air conditioning doesn’t work. Suddenly there was a very large bee with fuzzy black and yellow stripes on its back in the passenger seat next to me. It wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

This was a big bee — what I think of as a bumble bee. I have never been stung by one, and I did not want this day to be the first time.

The bee crawled around on the seat for a while as I watched it out of the corner of my eye while continuing to drive. Then I saw it disappear in the gap between the seat and the emergency brake. I kept on driving as I wondered what would happen to it.

Next thing I knew, here it came, flying up from under the seat like a miniature helicopter, right toward me! I didn’t want to swat at it for fear of making it attack, but I was quite nervous that it would sting me in any case. I came to a stop sign, eyed the bee, made a left turn, still watching the bee, swerved just a fraction into the other lane, corrected, and — oh, thank goodness! — the bee was swept out of the car by the wind when I accelerated out of the turn. Whew!

At other times, I tend to be positively disposed toward bees of all sorts. They do good things like pollinating flowers and making honey, and I do not begrudge them their place in the ecosystem. But the thought of a close encounter with one shifted my perspective, at least momentarily.

Without making too close an analogy, it seems to me that we often undergo such shifts in perspective regarding other people, as well. If I’m minding my business and you’re minding yours, I’ll probably extend you a sort of bland goodwill. You know the sort of thing — it used to be called “manners.” You hold the door to the post office for the person behind you. If they just walk on in, you go about your business and they go about theirs. But if the person gives you a big smile and says, “What a beautiful scarf!” their kind remark might cause you to offer some change from your pocket when they come up a few cents short at the window.

Conversely, if the person for whom you hold the door bumps into you on their way inside or says, “You still wearing a mask? Haven’t you heard the pandemic is over?” you probably won’t be inspired to go out of your way help them pay for their stamps.

Now it could be that the rude person bumped you accidentally or made the remark about your mask because their loved one is sick with COVID and they’re afraid. We say “actions speak louder than words,” but unfortunately, they don’t always speak clearly. We all take our negative feelings out on others at times, but those others mostly cannot tell what is going on beneath the surface. Are we having the day or week from hell, or are we just mean? People who don’t know us … don’t know.

What if, on the way out of the post office, the person who sneered at your mask came up to you and said, “I’m sorry about what I said earlier. My aunt’s in the hospital with COVID even though she got all the shots and wore her mask everywhere. It just seems so unfair!”

Would that change your perspective?

Sarah E. Reynolds is a former editor of The Republican Journal. She has lived in the Midcoast for about 20 years.