I’ll take some fettucini with that please!

Oh boy! I thought I was so clever trying to get the grocery shopping over with before the weekend.
It was definitely a good idea, wasn’t too crowded, but when I reached for that jar of alfredo sauce and saw it slip from my fingers I doubted why I ever left the house. I heard the jar hit something but my eyes were closed because I simply couldn’t bear what was going to happen. I heard, “Oh no!” and a couple of “Wows” and I slowly lifted my eyelids and looked down. White sauce every where, including my blue jeans and my black shoes. I’ll save you all the gory details but lets just say a clerk and I really bonded over paper towels and shards of glass.

As I pushed my cart to the parking lot in pouring rain my foot began to feel the delayed reaction of being hit by a jar, my limp was showing it, the woman walking next to me asked if I’d like to share her umbrella. I found myself telling her about how I was hoping the puddles would wash off my shoes. She was so kind, she listened attentively and when I finally got inside my car I thought how sometimes all we need is someone to just listen, even if it’s a total stranger. Dropping a jar on a foot you can’t feel and forgetting your umbrella in a rainstorm all the while feeling sorry for yourself as you imagined the second you got home sitting in traction was pushed aside. One simple act of kindness changed everything.

I’ve been trying to add time to my traction schedule to prevent jars full of alfredo sauce from flying thru the air but sometimes no amount of traction can save me. Life can be hard, but we aren’t alone and we should readily allow ourselves to receive kindness as much as we look to show it to others.

In the mean time have a merry, merry Christmas and know that I’ll be back here in 2012. Until then, I hope you are lifted up by someone just as I was today or better yet, you do the lifting.

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So simple, so easy

I was pushing my grocery cart yesterday toward the glass cases that hold the milk and a little girl, probably no more than seven or eight years old was in front of me and yells to her Mom, who was behind me, “Mom, how much milk should I get?” her Mom replies, “two” and the girl answers, “big ones or little ones” and Mom responds, “big.” The girl eagerly reaches in the case for the milk and I said, wow, I wish I had a great helper like you helping me out at the store. She looks up at me with the biggest smile on her face and as I reach for my milk she says, “thank you.”

Telling her you’re welcome I push my cart past her to the next aisle. I hear her run to her Mom and say, “Mom, this lady told me I was a great helper!” I could hear her Mom agree and send her on a mission for some cheese. I thought about how excited that child was to hear a compliment from some random lady at the grocery store, I hadn’t thought twice about saying it, she was an impressive helper, but her “thank you” was amazing. I haven’t heard many young children unprompted respond to a compliment with a thank you. Parenting a child is the hardest job on the planet, witnessing it first hand by making it look so simple, so easy, is delightful and impressive!

I have to finish up this traction gig today because my great twin nieces, who are three weeks old sent me an email asking me if I’d please come over and hang out with them while their Mom takes a shower. I tell ya, being a part of a child’s life at any age or stage is a privilege.

The squeaky wheel

I had that shopping cart today, the one that sounds like fingers on a chalk board, the one that all four wheels seem to be going in different directions and the noise is so high-pitched you start to look for a camera thinking you’ve been punked. But nope, your cart is not part of an elaborate prank, it’s just a mess and you are the lucky girl today that grabbed it and now you are half way around the store with this screeching thing and you can’t seem to push it fast enough to get this experience over with, oh yeah, and the faster you push the worse the sound. You start to feel self-conscious because it feels like your car alarm is going off inside the grocery store and all the stares and expressions of, “what the heck lady, turn that thing off!” are starting to get to you. You talk yourself off the ledge of just ditching the cart because you really need the stupid thing to hold onto even though you came in the store for only three items you are too unsteady on your feet today to be walking around the store without it. So you cut down another aisle just as the looks become embarrassing and force yourself onto some poor unsuspecting shoppers soon to have goose bumps from the unpleasant sound headed their way. You literally have the cart with the squeaky wheel and it truly is earning attention. You remember a child in Haiti that would cry out for any attention as soon as he’d see someone pass down the hallway, he’d scream as if he was dying and the stranger would immediately head in his direction. The little attention there was to be had he consumed it. You rarely picked him up because you saw this happen often enough that you knew he would survive, you focused your attention on the silent children with out the will or strength to scream. Why is it that the squeaky wheel gets attention? It really does work, you’ve seen it first hand in humans and with grocery carts. Why don’t things work as they should? Why do noisy things get more attention than quiet ones?
Why is human nature that when you push a crazy loud cart you feel like crawling under the shelves after a while because you just want to be the anonymous shopper, not the squeaky wheel…….geez, too much thinking in the aisles makes me grateful for the peace and quite of traction. This thing looks like it should make noise but other than the water sloshing around in the bag and the sound of the pulley running over head it’s all quiet here now and it’s quite nice.

Was that a UFO in aisle 6?

Nope, just a little boy strapped into a cart hurling a bag of frozen peas at his brother, but when it comes to my grocery store you may wonder. It’s built on an old land fill and the surrounding property is swampy in a part of the world without many swamps. Yet, neither of those tidbits leads me to believe it’s inhibited by aliens, it’s just a unscientifically weird store. Yes, there’s a guy that no matter the season he’s singing a unique rendition of “Take me out to the ball game” as he bags the groceries. Yes, there’s an ever-changing flow of clerks leading you to believe they may be alien abductees. Yes, the fellow customers may make you wonder if they landed there departing a flying saucer AND yes, some of the folks smell like they’ve not been introduced to some earthly comforts. BUT, all in all it’s not any of those things in particular.

It’s just a goofy, quirky and at times, sad place. It’s a newer store but you’d never know it. It’s the kind of place that seems like the bread always falls off the truck. I’m not sure why I shop there except it is convenient but I easily have other options. I think I just have a fondness for it because it’s very real. There is no pretense in this place. You easily see various forms of authentic behavior exhibited in every aisle. It’s the furthest thing from alien, it’s a very human place.

Sometimes stores try to make the shopping experience something filled with escapism, like a fairy tale, that’s not happening here. Walking these aisles you’re not overcome by make-believe or lost in outer space in the freezer section. You see it all clearly here but you don’t need 3D glasses. I’m sure there are other grocery experiences like this in the world where people don’t have a lot of patience or luxuries. It’s just the kind of place that when you make that quick stop for milk and whatever you determine that day to be “essential” you often leave with much more, just not necessarily in your cart.