“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca
I kept peeking over the shoulder of the woman in front of me. Why do I always pick the slowest line? I don’t have time for this.
Finally it was my turn. I put my items on the conveyor belt and was mapping out the next stop in my head. When I got up to the cashier I threw out a Hey, how are you doing? Not REALLY wanting to know but just trying to be a friendly I wasn’t feeling. I expected a Good, how are you? That’s what your supposed to do, right? But no…
I don’t want to be here today, came her reply.
Whoa now. I didn’t want a real answer. Isn’t that the way of it? We politely ask hoping you’ll politely answer with fine…
I’m thinking but not saying something like this: Are you serious? YOU are here to wait on ME not tell me you don’t want to be here. An ‘I’m fine. How are you?’ would have been the RIGHT thing to say. Pffftt, why am I not surprised. Why do I always pick the wrong line?
Fortunately for her (and me as you will see) I did not say what I was thinking. Instead, I made some joke about not wanting to be running around like a crazy woman but we do what we have to. Secretly wishing she would scan a little faster. I was, after all, in a tremendous hurry with a full schedule….did I mention this already?
She went on to tell me she got a call from Hospice a few minutes ago and her dad was in the active stages of dying. She was stuck here because she needs the job to pay the bills. She probably wouldn’t make it in time to tell him goodbye.
Thank you Jesus that what I was thinking before did not go from my brain to my mouth!(Oh but for the GRACE of God!)
I hadn’t noticed her lower than life countenance because I was watching her slower than snails scanning.
My day was overbooked. I was in such a hurry to get to the next thing, I wasn’t in the here and now. Sound familiar?
We live in such a fast paced, uptight, severely (over) scheduled world that noticing isn’t even an option. We can’t see the people we leave in the flurry of our hurry.
Our schedules are so full that there is no room for care, consideration or concern. Just watch people at the grocery store some time…sorry old lady trying to reach an item on the top shelf, I would help you but, you know, gotta go! Then we zip right around her thinking she should be glad we didn’t run her slow bum over.
I also thought MY day, MY schedule, MY to do list was way more important than that of a lowly cashier. Talk about arrogant. I may not have said anything this time but it was just a matter of time for pompous pride to make its way from mind to mouth.
What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45 NLT)
Later that same day, I was checking out at Michaels and the person in front of me was speaking her mind to the slow cashier. After huffy Harriet left and it was my turn, I told the cashier (who looked all of twelve) how sorry I was that she was treated like that. She looked so relieved, told me it was her first day on the job and that she was so nervous. Take a deep breath, you’ve got this.
I’m so grateful when God gives me an opportunity to redeem my jack-assery. The lesson that day? Be Kind, Not a Behind because you just never know what someone is going through.