Normally I do my grocery shopping Saturday mornings but not this past weekend. We had too many other things going on so I put it off till Sunday. Ergh. Not my favorite choice because Sunday is more of a “my” day than anything. I dislike having any reason to leave the house on Sunday. I was overtired and feeling a little bit put out as I scurried around tidying up, doing laundry and planning the week’s menu. Hubbs reclining comfortably under his favorite blankie might have added to my petulance.
But .. the sun had returned after a week’s absence, I had favorite tunes playing in my SUV and the roads were clear. So, off I went to the store, determined to get in-get all – and get out in record time. I shop at a local chain grocery store because it’s small, I know the staff in there, and I can find pretty much everything. We pay a little more than going to the big megastore but that’s ok; I budget and make my purchases as wisely as possible and, in turn, I get to shop at this little charmer. One of my first stops is at the Deli. Sundays are a bad day to hit the deli because there’s only one person working and there are lots of people shopping, most getting lunch meats for school lunches or sometimes picking out deli trays for football parties. I waited patiently as the lady in front of me deliberated on her choices. I felt myself getting impatient when she asked the pubescent Deli clerk which ham she thought her (the lady’s) kids would like. I know my right eyebrow cocked at this point and then the internal dialogue began: “Oh for the love of God lady; do you really think the 15-year-old gives a sh*t about which ham your kids eat? Really? She just wants to get out of here and get home like the rest of us… bloody hell….” I think that’s when I might have tapped my toe a few times. Next, she moved onto turkey and had to try at least 70 million samples. (Ok, maybe a little exaggeration.)
Realizing that my get in-get all-get out plan was stalled, I resigned myself to sticking it out as the line behind me started to grow. I heard a few coughs, mumblings, shuffling of feet. Then I started to really look at the lady and crew in front of me. I noticed a put-out, petulant teenage girl stomping back to the grocery cart as she flung in a few items. She and the lady didn’t speak. Ouch. I checked my own body language and, in horror, recoiled at my own petulance, immediately taking a deep breath and shifting my weight to the other foot. Another child, a boy around 10 years old, approached with several desired items and the lady softly told him no. His shoulders slumped as he trudged away. Then I started to really see what was before me: a mom, a tired one at that, just trying to pick something that might make these two happy while still providing nourishment. I saw a woman who rarely was appreciated, thanked, or possibly even acknowledged. I scolded myself for my impatience and, when she turned to me and said “sorry for taking so long,” I replied, “its ok. I understand.” She gave me a shy smile, turned back to her cart, grabbed the deli meat, and headed for the wine aisle.
I picked up more than a few groceries on Sunday; I picked myself up a little empathy in Aisle #3.
How about you? Ever had a life lesson in an unexpected place?