Saturday, January 23, 2010

Checking Out

The pile to scan was significant. For the life of me I could not understand what the checker’s problem was. Scan the sucker already! Come on lady just drag it over the glass. I wondered if she could work any slower. Maybe slow motion was a requirement to work at this superstore. Lady please, It doesn’t matter what kind of bag you use, just put it in a bag – please! Ugh! Where do they find these people? Cold molasses moved faster than this lady!
Hiking boots with no socks. Drab gray sweats pulled up to the knees. A dirty yellow sweat shirt hid curves that were long gone. Dirty hair incased a face containing a set of dull lifeless eyes. Between the checker and the customer I could not figure out which one was more irritating. They were a perfectly matched pair.
The customer’s tired eyes came up and hers met mine. A slight change – I almost missed it but there it was - pain. Curiosity swept aside my irritation. I began watching her and wondered what her story was. Maybe she was a single mom with a bunch a kids and now worn out, here she was doing her last task of the day getting some needed shopping done. Or, maybe she was homeless. Her attire fit that idea pretty well. She was having a difficult time. A simple decision of where to place each bag in the cart was a struggle. Finally, the checker finished the packing and her transaction was complete. With many unanswered questions my eyes followed her slow shuffle toward the door.
My attention switched back to the checker mesmerized now by her slow methodical pace. If the eyes are truly the window into the soul, this ladies eyes screamed with exhaustion.
My turn had finally come, no one had stacked up behind me and an announcement came over the intercom that the store would be closing soon. The checker in her late fifties began unhurriedly scanning my items. Looking at a face with no expression I asked, “Have you had a hard day?”
“Yes, it has been a long day, 10 hours today.”
“Ouch, have you been on your feet the whole time?”
“No, I get breaks. The problem isn’t here; it’s my 93 year old mother who lives with me. We cannot afford help so, I am her caregiver. I bathe her, fix her meals, all before this job. It is a heavy burden.” The checker’s accent was full and I am not sure of the order or what exactly followed or how the information came to be uttered but I gleaned her mother had been a great musician in her native country, maybe Sri Lanka.
“Do you play music also?”
A smile broke across her tired face and a sparkle brightened her eyes causing them to dance. “Oh yes, I play the piano and I sing. I love music.” More was said that I did not understand but energy had replaced the doldrums in the lady. She all at once seemed younger and if I wasn’t smiling on the outside, I for sure was smiling on the inside – what a transformation in both of us!
Gathering up my bags, “Thank you for helping me this evening, did you know your whole face sparkles with life when you talk about music?”
A smile and an embarrassed but grateful slight nod was my answer. She gave a simple low wave from her hip as I turned and left the store.
What a change of attitude – my irritation was gone. A short connection had been made. The interchange had been no more than a minute or two but it had more value to me than the contents in my bag. Driving home I wondered how many times I miss it in my rush or my irritation.
Could these short vignettes be times when Jesus shows up and hands me a gift? And maybe even says, “These are the ones I went to the cross for Grayquill, if you would love a bit more maybe I would show up a bit more often. And, who knows maybe more than a moment would pass between us - I know I would like that.”
Me to…!


Sylvia K said...

You do know how to move me even though I am not a member of any church, I have a great love for humanity. There are many different ways to show our love, our caring for others and you have written of such today. A beautiful and moving post! May all of us respond to our fellow man with interest, compassion, understanding and acceptance. Have a beautiful week, Grayquill!


Ashley said...

“These are the ones I went to the cross for Grayquill, if you would love a bit more maybe I would show up a bit more often. And, who knows maybe more than a moment would pass between us - I know I would like that.”

This is the best post I have read in a very long time...And this is for sure one of your best posts too...You are such a good soul Grayquill..I needed this post..It has done more for me than you would ever realize...Thank you!

Tall Guy said...

You did a great job on bringing a smile on a stranger's face.

Debra said...

This is good GQ...very, very good.

Blunt Edges said...

in school we used 2 often get a topic 2 writte an essay on 'your good deed 4 the day'...this sure classifies as one!
i haven't done one in ages...glad atleast i know someone who does :)

Grayquill said...

Sylvia: Thank you for always being an encourager – I appreciate your comments.

Ashley: You made my day!:-) :-) Thanks.
BTW - I’m not so good.

The Survivor: I hope so – thanks

Debra: Thank you!

Blunt Edges: It is nice of you to comment on such a post – You are the best!
FYI – You encourage me regularly and often – Thanks.

Michele Mallory-Davidson said...

OK, thought that I left a comment,
I suspect I have not had enough coffee! What I did say though, Grayquill you are an AMAZING human being!! Thank you for reminding me that there are stories behind all of those faces! I suspect that you made her day! BRAVO!

And no, my blog was not always so, hmmm SCREAMING PINK! Just changed it, afte much research on color and logos!

Arkansas Patti said...

Your moment of caring made that woman able to go home and care for her 93 year old mother with a bit more energy and a lighter heart.You're the best.
I saw a similar thing happen once triggered by a kind person in front of me who tamed an angry looking check out lady that was carrying a terrible weight like your lady. It taught me that we seldom see the whole picture unless we ask and it is folly to judge another just by appearances.
You not only helped her and yourself but also anyone near you who heard your conversation. They also learned that day.
Beautiful post GQ.

Rose said...

Gosh I hate when I cry cause its hard to read. What a lovely story about seeing someone as God sees them. One kind word, one simple gesture changed the whole situation. Thank you for the reminder that we all are carrying burdens that others no nothing about and one kind word can brighten a persons day. Wonderful post GQ! Hugs!

Grayquill said...

Michele: Thank you, I am so self absorbed I am usually oblivious to those around me. –Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Arkansas Patti: You have insight I had not considered. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

Rose: Tears are good, I think they give our souls a bath. Thanks for your great comment.

AngelMc said...

We just never know do we? When we open ourselves to hear and see what He wants us to hear and see, He never fails to amaze.

Hilary said...

It's so much easier to feel irritated. So much better to take the time to understand. Thanks for being that person who cares.

Anita Jeyan said...

Looking at a face with no expression I asked, “Have you had a hard day?”

The above sentence personifies grace.So much grace as Grayquill. I would never have asked such a question to an irritatingly slow store person. I would not have bothered even think about being kind.I wish there were more people like you. It would have been a better world to live in.

Asif said...

Grayquill, I must say that you are a keen observer, a sensible critic, a matured psychologist and a good soul. You know very well whether how to express your point. No one would have narrated it better than you. A small word or kind encouragement can do soo much to the mood of a person in troubles. I loved the way you spoke to her.
Being a lover of humanity and equality, I just would like to say that you were the god in the moments when you actually brought smile on her face by making her forget her worries.
God is no where but within us, within the good people living around us…
I wish there were more Grayquills around me to see a better world :)

Grayquill said...

AngelMc: I am a poor listener… Nice thought

Hilary: Yip, I am pretty good at being that irritated person. Thanks for the nice words.

Anita: Hmm…I wonder – you have sure shown me kindness.

Asif: Your words are incredibly kind. Thank you!

Karthik Kotresh said...

Such a heart-warming post, sir. Kudos and thank you! We often get irritated when we are made to wait, and worse, we show it off. Little things could solve the problem, and how! Ending on a positive attitude, that. Just beautiful! Have a great day. :)

Dianne said...

it only takes a moment ...

how wonderful to be so engaged in the world Grayquill - it is heroic in many way - the courage to be open to everyday people in an everyday world


Lynda G. said...

A lovely reminder of why it is good to communicate with people and to never assume things. Thank you, Grayquill.

Destiny's child... said...

One of the most touching posts I have read in recent times. I think you are amazing. You spread a smile. :)

Grayquill said...

Karthik: Thanks. I do get irritated a bit more than I probably should.

Dianne: Thank you for the very nice comment!

Lynda G: No…no…no…thank you!

Destiny’s Child: Thank you for the super duper comment! Way to nice!

Anonymous said...

Grayquill is as nice as ever. If anything he has become more observant and thoughtful. Thanks for this lovely post. It teaches us all a few, very important lessons...

PS: Does this mean you have started being thoughtful around the cat as well?

Grayquill said...

Choco: Well look who came for a visit - how nice! I thought Choco had flew the coupe, was gone forever, breezed away, split the blog, motored away, busted a grove, shaked da spot, skated off, scooted the moon, skidaddle the scene, trucked off, but here she is – yahoo!
As to the cat - let's just say I am not mean to the cat, we are politely ignoring each other.

Anonymous said...

Nah Nah! Choco flew some distance, bought some chocolates, fed the same to some cats, swam and danced and gazed at the moon and then skipped right back to where it all started.

I don't think any of that made any sense. Anyways..Told you cats are polite beings. Give my love to the cat! :)

Amrita said...

Hugs to you GQ. You are such a sensetive soul.