The other day, while waiting in line at the grocery store, I began reflecting on the nice lunch I had earlier with a new friend. During our conversation, we talked about how good it feels to help other people, especially when you are feeling down about yourself. How uplifting it is to do something for someone else and how it takes you out of your own drama!
A woman about my age was behind me in line. She had one can of cake frosting and was counting a handful of change to pay for it. She asked, “Have you ever been unemployed? I am counting this ahead of time so I won’t be embarrassed at the checkout stand.” I told her, “Yes, I have been there.” She asked what I did for a living now. I told her my husband and I were self-employed, and that even though money was still a bit tight, it does get better. I looked more closely at her. She was clean, but her clothes were old. Her eyes were red and her face was drawn, from worry, I assumed.
I very much remember counting the items in my cart and mentally calculating the total so I wouldn’t be embarrassed at the checkout by not having enough money. I often had to put some items back on the shelf.
All this lady wanted was a can of frosting. I could do that for her, but I wondered, How do I do it and not embarrass her? I quietly picked up the can and placed it on my side of the separator on the belt. When she objected, I told her that someone nice just bought me lunch, and now it was my turn, so please don’t deny me that. She was stunned, and tears welled up in her already red eyes.
The cashier saw what was happening. She was very subtle about the transaction and slid the frosting into a bag, giving it to the other customer and putting my items in my bag. It was all so sweet; it made my heart swell to be a part of it. All for the bargain price of $1.35. It made that lady’s day that someone cared. It didn’t matter if she was frosting cupcakes for her granddaughter or going to eat it with a spoon. It did me good to do it!
It made me think, Wouldn’t it be a nice world if, when we go to the grocery store and don’t have enough money, that those who do would help out? Then when things were better for us, we could do that for others. What if everything worked that way?
I remembered my favorite neighbor and what she did for us during our rough times. My husband and I have three critters that depend on us—two beautiful dogs, Izzy and Dharma, and Larry the parakeet. We opened the front door one day to find a huge bag of dog food and a big canister of parakeet food courtesy of our neighbor Becky. She knew we were struggling and wanted to help. When I went to thank her, she reminded me of a time when she lost her job, and we brought her groceries. I had forgotten about that, but she hadn’t.
Maybe this tough economy is forming a bond of support throughout the community … neighbor helping neighbor and stranger helping another stranger. Maybe it is already a wonderful world, and we just have to open our eyes to it.
My eyes are open. Are yours?