Saturday, January 13, 2018

When a Grocery Trip Changes Your Day

There's something about the grocery store that provides so many ways to grow in holiness.

We all go there. It's pretty mundane. Yet the way we interact with people can change the course of our day-- and theirs. There's a lot of opportunity in that. 

Last week I was in the checkout line, unloading my cart. The line behind me was getting long and the person in front of me was slowly finishing his transaction. As it became my turn, I realized why things were going slower than usual. 

A middle-aged man with a fresh, innocent face was the bagger. It was clear that he had a developmental disability and it was clear this was a new job for him as the cashier directed him to 'pack the fruits together' or 'put the bread on top.' The cashier seemed a little frazzled and apologetic to the customers and I could hear the edge in her voice as she hurried him along...not in a mean way, but moreso in a way that showed she was nervous that we were all annoyed and upset with the sweet man taking his sweet time. 

Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones. Or maybe it's just the human connection. But I watched the scene with a flood of compassion unleashing inside. And I knew I wanted to say something to let her know it was okay.

I smiled at the bagger and said, "you're learning from the best. I love the way you guys bag groceries here." It was kind of silly but it was all that came to mind as I smiled at the cashier, trying to reassure her that I didn't mind the delay.

Her whole expression changed from stress to appreciation. She smiled at me and said "You have a really good day, ma'am." Neither one of us said what we were really thinking. But there was a knowing between us, a silent communication between us. 

I continued to chat with the bagger as I helped him load my cart. His innocence and friendliness cut my heart as I thought about how often I myself am in such a rush...and how hard it must be for him and others like him to go slow in a world that won't slow down and make room. 

The grocery bagger gave me a gift that day along with my purchases...a reminder to slow down and see people. Every moment of life holds beauty...why am I so quick to miss it and rush to the next moment? Many people may have thought him simple and slow, but by God's grace that day I saw that he was the one living with true wisdom and grace -- focusing on the moment, carefully performing his tasks with intentionality,  and seeing and engaging the people right in front of him. 

I drove home with tears in my eyes, my trunk full of well-packed groceries, and a heart full of gratitude for an unexpected lesson in love.


  1. What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing this-I love these kinds of moments :)

  2. A beautiful perspective! Taking on the task of grocery shopping has provided me continued opportunities to grow in patience and compassion too. It's so easy to let the annoyances get to you, but making an effort to seize those moments of connection is a game changer. Slowing down and appreciating the effort people make means a lot - I remember how hard being a cashier can be!

    1. Yes, it can be so easy to just be routine with it and miss the moments-- I do that so often!

  3. I love this! I shared to my FB (via Into Your Will, who posted it.) I worked for 5 years in a small health food store, where I recognized most of the customers. It was special how some would be deliberately kind to me, and how I felt when I was deliberately kind to them. The one interaction that has always haunted me is when I regular customer, who clearly had serious health and financial problems, didn't have enough cash to pay for all her meager (like, 5 items) groceries. Why didn't I just step up and pay for it? Or honestly my great boss wouldn't have minded if I waived the extra. I feel like I was so stuck in routine that I couldn't get beyond that to solve the problem. It's bothered me ever since. ---MariaE

    1. Aww, thank you for sharing it on FB!

      That's so tough about that lady! Trust me, I have several times when I did NOT respond to the nudge of grace and kick myself for it!!