Thursday, March 11, 2010

Be kind (especially at the grocery store) ...

Last weekend I made a quick grocery run to grab a few items at our local food store. I was so tempted to forget the trip all together when I saw the number of cars in the parking lot. Anyone else dread going grocery shopping? It’s one of those have-to-do tasks in life. Try as I may – there are some day when making the grocery run fun just isn’t happening. And trust me we’ve tried everything to make them fun.

The best game we like to play is called Grocery Store GPS - my daughter pretends to be my human GPS and in her best digital voice directs me around the store. When she is with me – I don’t mind grabbing the toilet paper and the bottle of ketchup. “You have arrived – makes it all worthwhile!”

OK back to the trip last weekend. I made this trip alone – no adorable “You have arrived” voice to make it fun. It’s just me on a mission to get the needed items and get home.

In line – 3 people in front of me with their carts heaping full of enough food to last for a month. All other lines are full of heaping carts. So I wait. And as I wait I begin to notice the attitude of shoppers around me. It becomes almost comical. And I found myself smiling – big Cheshire cat smile.

The lady directly in front of me is on the cell phone unloading her goods and is engaged in quite a loud shout with whoever is on the other line. We could all hear her frustration and anger. In the middle of the conversation she tells the checker how to do her job. She bags up her goods (all the while on the cell phone) and marches out of the store. Dark cloud on the move!

My turn to unload my cart – I look at the lady who is checking the groceries and simply ask: “How are you tonight?” Her response: “I’m tired.” And then she stopped and asked: “How are you?” And before I could respond she said: “You are very polite.”

This caught me off guard. I wanted to stop right there in the store and have a nice chat with her. I could see she was about 8 months pregnant and she did look tired. I could only imagine what a job like that could do to your nerves. As much as I dislike making the grocery run – I am always so thankful for the people who work there day in and day out – listening to that beep… item after item. And somehow, they always have a smile. The line was too long behind me to tell her all that so I looked at her and said: “Thank you, life is too short and too wonderful to not be kind.”

Now she had a Cheshire cat smile. No black clouds in that interaction.

I’ve thought about that little grocery store moment a few times this week and I couldn’t help but wonder the following – Have we become so reliant and involved with our electronic devices that we fail to recognize and interact with the people that are right in front of us? Are we so busy and consumed in ourselves that we don’t or can’t reach out to offer a word of hope to another? I hope not.

This week – slow down … look people in the eyes and recognize the beauty that is happening right in front of you! (I will too.)

Maybe just maybe if we tried living in the moment (with the electronics off) – the grocery trips would be a much better experience all together!