Today’s assignment: Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.
I never enjoy grocery shopping. No matter what time of day it is, the stores are congested with all kids of people, the lines are no shorter than 15 customers long and without fail, the cart I pick has a faulty wheel, pulling me to the right. Today’s trip was no different.
I pulled into the first available parking spot, and as I got out of my car, my first step was directly, dead center of a pool of water. I haven’t even entered the store and both of my sneakers are dripping with the remnants of this mornings downpour. Awesome.
As I approach the wide, double, automatic doors, there’s a group of kids holding buckets, begging customers for donations for their schools sports program. Under normal circumstances, I’d drop a few dollars in the bucket and wish them luck. Still concentrating on my soaking wet feet, I think to myself, thank God I only have my debit card.
Over time, I’ve developed a routine. I start at the back of the store and make my way to the front. As I head back there, a robust woman with 2 obnoxious children in her cart, are crying over a toy they can’t have. Angered by their behavior, she jets out of the aisle without pause, almost crashing directly into me.
The loud squeak coming from sneakers is now not only annoying me, but other customers as well. They look at me, then to my feet and shake their heads in disgust, as though I’m doing it on purpose. Yes, I’m a child and just had to jump in all the puddles, specifically to make your shopping experience as horrible as mine.
It was in the pasta aisle, maybe because I was buying spaghetti for my son, that I recalled our conversation at the bus stop… “Don’t forget… happiness is a choice mom! Have a good day!” It brought an immediate smile to my face. The woman next to me looked at me as though I was insane. Who the hell smiles at spaghetti? Hmmm… I do.
Just as sudden as my mood had turned sour, there was now a hop in my step. Sure my feet were squeaking, my cart was pulling me in different directions, my shopping was only half done and I was ready for a nap, but all I could think about was going home and making my little boy (11 years old and an only child) his favorite dinner.
Without a second thought, I zipped through my list and made my way to the check out. Despite my change in attitude, I still had to stand in line for 20 minutes just like everyone else. I thought the woman with the 2 obnoxious kids were bad… The adults standing in line were far worse. It starts with a rolling of the eyes. They don’t want to wait in line and they feel everyone else needs to know this. Next comes the heavy sigh and the side step to get a better look at what’s going on at the register that holding us all up. THEN they start verbalizing their aggravation. “I don’t know why I even come here.” “They should have more registers opened.” “They should hire people who know how to run a register.” etc., etc.
I watch and listen to these adult customers, well aware that this is how I looked as I initially entered the store, and I’ve got to admit, I’m a tad bit ashamed of myself. It’s finally my turn!! I put all my groceries on the counter, smile at the cashier and make small talk to reassure her she’s doing a good job. Her return smile lets me know she’s appreciative.
Everything’s bagged and back in my cart when she asks, “Would you like to donate to the Children’s Diabetes Fund?”
“Of course I would. Please add $15.00 to my total.” Again, another smile spreads across her face.
I swipe my debit card. The machine asks if I’m paying with a debit card or a credit card. I pause for a moment, remembering the kids outside. I press the debit button and enter my pin number. It then asks if I would like cash back. I take an additional $20.00 out. The smile is contagious. I can’t force myself not to. It’s a definite struggle to make my way back to the double doors, but I make it. And before they have a chance to ask, I drop a twenty-dollar bill in their bucket. Another smile; this one so obvious full of appreciation.
I’ve heard “Smiles are free so give them away.” Now I know this for myself to be true. Happiness is not just a choice, but it’s contagious as well.