After an hour and a half of pushing the shopping cart around the grocery store this morning, I finally had everything I needed. Wade was getting tired. I needed to get home, and put my purchases away in time to meet David’s bus at the end of the driveway.
I walked up to the checkout lines, and there were only four open. Two of those were express lanes. No one was in the express lanes, but there were 10 women with loaded shopping carts waiting in line at the other two checkouts.
I picked the line that looked the fastest, and resigned myself to waiting.
After a few minutes a woman who got in line behind me exclaimed loudly, “You would think they’d see all these people standing here, and open another line! Hrumph!”
Then another woman chimed in. “THIS is why I hate grocery shopping. And I’ve got a million other things to get done today when I leave here!”
Soon all the woman waiting in line were grumbling to each other about the store’s failure to open enough lanes. Then the grumbling moved on to other things: children, husbands, finances. Perfect strangers aired grievances, and bonded over their miseries.
One woman was so upset about having to wait that she began to curse, and made a very derogatory remark about the store’s employees. A remark that I am sure the two cashiers heard. The cashiers who were not at fault for something that was obviously management’s responsibility, and who were working hard to move customers through the lines as quickly as possible.
While all this was going on, I stood there quietly talking to Wade. He was giggling, and clapping as we played paddy-cake. The women kept looking at me, trying to get me to make eye contact. Trying to suck me into their orgy of misery.
I looked up once, and smiled and shrugged my shoulders. The woman I smiled at glared back at me like I’d thrown a bucket of water on her raging fire of anger.
I probably wouldn’t have been so aware of what was going on, except that just the day before the speaker at the mom’s group I attend spoke on joy. She talked about people who try to steal your joy.
These disgruntled women were doing more than that. They were trying to stomp on it, and crush it, and grind it into the ground.
I stood there thinking about all the things I had to be grateful for:
- I had money to buy all the groceries that I needed for my family this week. I even had enough to buy a few extra items. So many don’t have enough for even the basics.
- I had transportation waiting for me in the parking lot that got me to the store, and would get me home.
- Wade was happy, and waiting patiently in the cart even though it was a long morning.
- I had a warm house to go home to, and clean, dry cupboards to put my groceries away in when I did get through the line.
Yes, all things considered, I concluded, I was glad to be waiting in line at the grocery store.
Though I could have done with more pleasant company.
Eventually the store opened up another lane, but I stayed where I was. I figured I’d let the clucking hens get out and on their way first.
I got through the line at last, and left the store with a smile on my face in spite of all the Debbie Downers around me. (Ok. Maybe I was laughing at them. A little.)
It’s all about perspective, and what you choose to see.
They saw inconvenience, incompetence, discomfort and hardship.
I saw how very much I had to be thankful for.