Wednesday, January 26, 2011

kind numbers

On Monday after a few hours of research, I walked to the grocery store to buy some snacks for the week. As I am prone to do, I began by thinking I would get only a few items. I started to pile drinks and bagels and yogurt in my arms and then had to set everything down and go looking for a basket. After wandering down a few more aisles of goodies, the basket was starting to get pretty full, too, and a clerk asked me if I wanted a cart. What? No! I did a re-think and put some items back, reminding myself that I had to carry everything back to my room which was a 15-minute walk away, and I was only going to be here for 5 days.

I had one more thing on my list: fruit. Finding something good was a challenge. The apples and pears didn't look very appetizing, the grapes - meh; there was not much else for selection, and all of it was expensive. Finally, I found blueberries for 99 cents! Yay! I picked up 3 boxes, added them to my pile of popcorn and yogurt, and headed for the checkout.

Everything was going well until the blueberries were wafted across the scanner. The boxes showed $4.99 each! What? I told the cashier that I had thought they were 99 cents. She said that was only if I had a club card. Did I have one? Well, I obviously didn't and said No. I was about to tell her that I wouldn't take the blueberries when the man behind me said, "I'll put in my phone number." Before I could respond or say anything or do much more than stand there and stare, he had punched in a number and I saw my total go down by $13.93.

I was very grateful for his quick and kind act, and said thank you several times. The man smiled at me and then continued talking to his friend. It wasn't a big deal to him; it cost him nothing. Just a blip in his day, but it meant a lot to me. I stood at the door and wondered if I should do anything more for him. Instead of gushing and making a scene, perhaps graciously receiving, being thankful, and not hesitating to do the same for another person were a better idea.

We are so trained to protect our identity, our secret numbers, our passwords, our accounts, to build a security wall around our own tightly controlled private world, that the relaxed act of a total stranger punching in his phone number which gave me not only his discount but also his name on my receipt, seems almost dangerous! And that is heading in the wrong direction. Becoming so self-protected means that we have grown inward and selfish instead of outward and generous. Hesitating to help is just one symptom of that. God, let me be quick to help. Generous people will no doubt be taken advantage of on occasion, but so will selfish people, so might as well be generous. It is much better for not only my soul, but the whole world.

Thank you, Christopher W.

This is a picture of a driveway in Alexandria, Virginia, taken on the way home from the store today (2nd visit). The gate is open!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the South.