An Insight from a Grocery Store
I am at a store, waiting in line the length of the I-15 between Nevada and California. I’ve stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work to get some water. There are no self-checkout stations here; there is only one register open; the line is not moving and gradually keeps getting longer.
I am standing quietly, staring at the covers of the displayed magazines, getting a priceless update on the current state of affairs of the royal family in the UK and the latest news about bikini readiness among the US celebrities.
Suddenly the lady in front of me turns back, studies my several-gallon water container and offers: “Would you like to go in front of me?” “Are you sure?” I hesitate for a minute and give her a chance to change her mind. “Absolutely! I have a full cart and you’ve only got a water bottle. Go ahead!” she smiles and moves her cart out of my way, allowing me to pass her. I thank the lady and move a little closer to the register.
It’s past nine at night and most people look tired, but no one is angry or upset. No one is complaining or making any fuss. There is peaceful silence in the store, periodically interrupted by the cashier’s habitual, “Hi, how are you? Have you found everything OK?” and the quiet chatter of a mother and her teenage daughter behind me.
Then the new lady in front of me accidentally notices the water container in my hands. With one big sweep, she pushes her groceries to the side of the conveyer belt, turns back to me and, pointing at my water, says: “You can put that down.” “Oh, thank you,” I reply with relief. “Of course! It must be heavy!”
My heart starts feeling warm and gooey as it is being quickly filled up with the feelings of gratitude and appreciation: for the considerate strangers caring about each other’s well-being and taking care of each other in an uncomfortable situation. For all the customers being patient with the cashier – our fellow human being – who is doing her best. For the simple acts of kindness displayed sincerely, humbly and generously.
At this late hour, in this small local grocery store, in what could have been an irritating and frustrating experience, I suddenly find myself feeling connected to the rest of humanity, feeling that we are truly one, feeling love towards everyone and everything around me.
Then my eyes fall on the magazine stand again. I think about all the horror stories that we are being fed by the media every day at the very same time as millions of good-hearted and selfless people – for no reward, praise or even honorable mention, – perform big and small acts of kindness on a regular basis.
“We’re all just walking each other home,” said Ram Dass. And despite what others want us to believe, most of us choose to do it with love, kindness and compassion.