Grocery Checkout Drama

February 19, 2018

Standing in a crowded grocery store, with just a couple items in my hands, there were two people in front of me, and another behind. Seeing the congestion, a cashier opened up a new register, and motioned to me that she was open. The woman behind me, with a full basket, sped around me and left me in the dust. Not in a big hurry, I shuffled in behind her.


As the cashier was ringing up her purchases, our attention was drawn to the aisle we had just left. There was what I surmised was about an 8 -year- old boy standing with his feet on the base of a grocery cart. His mother was consumed with the task at hand—paying for her groceries.


About that time the young lad let out a long, unsolicited scream. I could tell, almost immediately this child had special needs. The woman in front of me had not noted the same thing. She said to the cashier, in an elevated tone which must certainly have struck the ears of the child’s mother, and likely was intended for her: “I don’t know how you do it—working in these conditions. You are a saint!”


The child then let out a second, not as intense scream, to which the woman in front of me said on the heels of it, to conjoin the two into almost one complete thought:


“I am so glad I spent the four-thousand dollars to have my tubes tied!”


Fortunately, this tragic scenario was both juxtaposed and overcome by a young man who works at the grocery store as a bagger.


He himself has special needs, and despite his challenges, he is friendly to each and every costumer, saying hello and waving to all, as well as working hard to tend to their first priority, getting their groceries into bags. He seems in fact to be more like the unofficial mayor of the store than an employee.


The moment he first heard the boy in the aisle next to me scream, it was as if he tuned into his needs directly. He left his bagging task, proceeded to untie a helium balloon from another cart near the help desk, and pulled it off. He walked the white balloon with a long silver string over to the boy and gently handed it to him as he said: “This is for you” and smiled with great delight.


It was as if he had spoken to the boy’s inner-most yearnings. He never made another sound, as his mother finished her business, gathered him, and walked out of the store with the cart. I marveled at the two parallel universes that unfolded before my eyes. One, full of hurry and hard-heartedness and un-addressed pain. The other, made of perfect timing, innate understanding, and generosity in relationships. And I knew in an instant which kingdom I want always to inhabit.


“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with passion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”—Colossians 3:12

Yours in Christ,


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