I had 37 minutes to get to the post office, through Winn Dixie, and to carpool this afternoon. By the time I got out of the post office I realized there was a pretty good chance I was going to be late for carpool, but I still wanted to make it through the grocery store. So I went for it. (This is my version of “risky behavior.”)
I grabbed the four items (two of which were on sale, thank you!) I needed and rushed up to the front of the store. Three lines were open. One had two people. The next had two people with FULL carts. And the third had one woman, medium amount of stuff. Third line it is.
She had about 15 cans of cat food and 12 cans of tuna fish. The cashier made it 3/4 of the way through the cans when the woman, tall and blonde and kind of annoyed, suddenly said, “Oh! I forgot dry cat food!”
Now how are you going to remember 15 cans of cat food and 12 cans of tuna fish and forget the dry cat food? Whatever. It’s fine. I’ll probably still make it to carpool in time.
She ran back to the counter. “Remind me where the cat food is again?”
The cashier stared at her, probably thinking the same thing that you’re thinking.
“Nevermind! I think I know.” She ran off again.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Finally she runs back up with her dry cat food bag and hands it to the cashier.
The cashier finishes ringing her up and the total pops up on the screen.
The tall blonde woman scowled at the cashier. “That’s not correct. Those are 2 for $5. I just bought them yesterday.”
HOW MANY CATS DOES THIS WOMAN HAVE?!?
“Ok, I’ll need to get a manager,” the cashier said. I began scanning the other two lines again. They were both full. I was hedging my bets by staying, but remaining aware in case a better opportunity opened up.
The woman standing in front of me, waiting for the manager to determine just how much her cat food cost, started the blame game:
“You know, you’re holding up all these people because you don’t know how much your products cost. All these people are having to wait.”
The cashier looked at me. “I’m sorry you’re waiting.”
“Don’t apologize for a thing,” I said.
“You’re understaffed. I don’t see how you can only have three lines open making all these people wait. The management of this place is awful.” She was really on a roll. “It’s just ridiculous. We all have places to be. I don’t have time for this. None of us do.”
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. And my mouth started talking. “Actually, I’ve got all the time in the world.”
No, I didn’t really. But in all honesty, I had enough time to be kind to the people who were serving me. And I didn’t want to participate in her blame game.
“Oh, you do?” She put her hand on her hip. “Well, I don’t. I don’t have time.”
Probably shouldn’t say what you’re thinking, probably shouldn’t say what you’re thinking, probably shouldn’t say what you’re thinking…
“You might have more time if you spent less of it complaining…”
Probably shouldn’t have said that. Probably shouldn’t have said that.
Probably shouldn’t have said that…
Yeah. That popped out of my mouth. It wasn’t my finest moment as I picked up my four items and walked to another line that happened to open up at that exact moment because God is good and knew He needed to move me immediately.
It seriously made me realize that yes, my time is important, but not as important as being kind to the people I come into contact with. I probably didn’t improve the life of the woman I snapped at, so there is obviously some room for growth on my end. But I couldn’t imagine blaming and complaining and bitching at people who are all doing their jobs and attempting to help. That was the only way I could think of to not participate in this woman’s attempt at blaming someone else for an experience that wasn’t REALLY that big of a deal.
I once heard Oprah say, “You’re either helping people or you’re hurting them.” Ever since I heard her say that nearly 10 years ago, I decided I always wanted to be helping. I’m not 100% successful, but I’d say about 85% of the time I am helping people more than I am hurting them. I let people in in traffic because I always imagine someone is in a rush to the hospital or to a job interview. I try to enjoy conversations the strangers in Walmart start with me. I like to look cashiers in the eye and make a special point to say thank you to the people who bag my groceries. I ENJOY being that kind of a person. (I know that my kindness and willingness to help annoys some people, but I guess that just proves you can’t make everybody happy.)
Who would you have been in the grocery store situation today? Would you have complained? Snapped a little at the complainer? Stood silent? Texted someone?
And who would you have wanted to be?
BTW I pulled out of the parking lot before that lady even left the store and I made it to carpool on time. <snap snap>