Earlier this past week I was in line at the grocery store. I had but only a few items to buy, so I went into the line I thought would move the quickest. Haven’t we all done that? You know what I mean, I’m sure. You have your items in hand (or basket) and with the eye of an eagle you begin to scan the conveyor belts at each lineup. If you are like me you will no doubt pick the slow boat most of the time.
Ah, there it was, beckoning me forward to speed through the line where but one mere soul was standing. No sooner did I plop my cereal and Brillo Pads (scrubby pad for dishes!) onto the conveyor, I realized this line was going nowhere fast. The lady in front of me was having a heck of a time with her payment, did she want delivery service, where was her artichoke dip, and the like.
She was an older adult, bless her. I could see that she was a bit confused, and I felt for her, knowing that perhaps what to many might seemed like a routine event was monumental for this dear soul.
I waited patiently all the while aware of the stern gazes and ‘rude’ remarks being made by other customers behind me. I heard one lady say aloud to no one in particular, “This is why my husband always asks me why it takes so long to go to the grocery store.” With her occasional, “Hhhhmmpph” noises to boot, my patience was wearing thin for her and the other ‘glaring’ people (including the cashier), not with the older lady.
I noticed the older lady left her purse on the conveyor belt. “Excuse me”, I chimed. “You’ve left your purse on the belt!” She hadn’t realized this, and was so appreciative that I handed it to her.” “Oh, you are my angel today”, was her reply. She swooped in for a hug which I was only too glad to accept. I wished her a lovely day, and off she went. For those in line (and the cashier) I stated the following: “You know, it’s probably a good idea to have patience with those who might seem a bit confused or needing extra time.” “I think they really would appreciate it.” And of course my comments were greeted with a round of nothing.
A few months ago I wrote a post called, ” My Unsolicited Advice To A Stranger “. Well, I’m doing it again in this post addressed to these customers and the cashier. So here it goes:
- They say that patience is a virtue. Please consider being a virtuous person and have patience when waiting for an older adult to complete their grocery transaction.
- How about some empathy for an older adult. You are all younger than this woman. You do not see the daily struggles she may endure simply having to decide if she feels up to traipsing to the grocery store for some milk and waffles. The empathy can reveal itself in your kindness realizing that you too someday may be in the exact same situation. Oh how you would relish others treating you with kindness and empathy.
- Offering to help another in this situation might be the only kind thing that has happened to them all day (or all week, for that matter). Imagine how you would feel not having a single kind word said to you for an entire week and then encountering unsympathetic people when all you are trying to do is buy something to eat that day.
- Watch your body language and glares. This woman did absolutely nothing wrong to warrant your mean-spirited looks and eye-rolling. The last time I checked, it wasn’t illegal to take but a few extra minutes to find your coupon.
- Be careful of the energy you put out into the world. There is nothing good about filling up the universe with your negative attitudes towards others, especially those who need our support more than anything.
I noticed the dear older lady was going to use the delivery service offered by the grocery store, but once hearing the cost instead decided to take her groceries with her. A store clerk helped her walk down the street with her purchases (I was walking behind them so I saw her frail, unsteady gait as I felt my eyes welling up with empathy).
I hope that dear lady knows that not everyone is without patience and understanding. I think it’s a good reminder for us all (and yours truly no doubt) to take that little breather when we find ourselves frustrated by ‘seemingly’ outputting situations. Your understanding might just be the best and most appreciated thing for not only the other person, but for you as well. Think about how good it feels to truly help others. A humbling thought.