Two Women Who Taught Me Kindness
--by Tikit, posted Jan 28, 2008
I was standing in line at our local Wal-Mart with one item in my hand at the express lance check out. The lady in front of me was a fragile looking senior citizen. Since I had been widowed fairly recently, and was still walking around in that pervasive fog that is a combination of ennui and sadness, I was so self-absorbed in my own little world of gloom that it wasn't really registering in my brain that the little old lady was having trouble getting her items out of her shopping cart and placing them on the counter. I stood there blankly watching her, pretty much numb to what was going on around me to take any action and lend her a hand. She slowly managed to get her purchases on the checkout counter, then began to fumble in her purse, and seemed to get more and more rattled and frustrated.
I was also oblivious to the fact that the lady in line behind me was obviously disgruntled with the speed at which we were not moving forward. What finally woke me out of my self absorbed reverie was the rather loud pronouncement of the woman behind me, stating in a peeved tone of voice "This is the express lane, that girl (the checkout person) should tell her to go to some other checkout!" I then noticed that the little white haired lady in front of me, indeed, had more than the allotted 10 items one was supposed to have. Then the woman behind me breathed a huge audible sigh and said "God, I can't believe this." Of course, both statements were said loudly enough for the check out person and the old woman to hear. The teenager at the cash register looked a little panic stricken, as if it were her fault, and the senior in front of me startled; her palsy worsened and she seemed even more rattled, if that were at all possible.
At that point I turned to the woman behind me and said in my sweetest, most condescending tone (oh yeah, I was being a totally sarcastic hypocrite at this point), "Oh yes, she does have too many items, doesn't she?" Then I added, "I think that can be easily remedied." And smiling, I moved seven or eight of the old lady's items back to where my lonely bottle of something or other lay on the counter, and said "Put this on my tab, but you can bag it for her." "There, problem solved." The complaining woman behind me never breathed another word. The senior in front of me looked like a deer caught in the headlights for a moment, then broke into the most amazing smile. Since she was still rattled and fumbling around for her money, I just whipped out my credit card and told the girl to just ring it ALL up as my bill.
Of course I got a big thank you from the little old lady in front of me, but what it did for my own psyche was way more than what her little inexpensive assortment of purchases came to. What it did for me was way beyond the simple "feel good" of the moment. I had learned an important lesson. One of the best ways to move beyond our own problems in life, is to step outside of our comfort zone, forget about ourselves for a moment, and do something for somebody else.
In hindsight, I owe a thank you to both of those women; one for giving me the opportunity, the other for being the catalyst that prompted me into action.
Hopefully the woman behind you also got a sense of what humility looks like and hopefully realize the world is full of other people and they are just as important as she.
May you continue to bless others as well as continue to receive blessings.