This isn’t about family history, but it is about the human family and how we treat and cherish each other.
I just got back from the grocery store, where of course I picked the wrong line – again!
I had just run in to pick up a few things for dinner, and as there was only the young mother ahead of me with a few items, I thought I could be in and out quickly. First mistake.
It turns out that this very young mom had 3 WIC [Women, Infant, Child - money for mothers with children under the age of 5, specifically for food] checks, which meant that she had to divide her items into 3 separate piles for each check. With the first check, the young mother had chosen name brand beans, so the cashier, left the till, took the beans back and eventually came back with the off-brand beans. The cashier, obviously new, slowly made the purchases, paper-clipped the receipt to the check and then proceeded to the second set of items.
The people who had been in line behind me, left our line and were now being checked out in the next lane. The cashier finally finishes paper-clipping the next receipt to the check for the 2nd pile, and at last was on to the last set of goods. I begin to feel hope of getting out of the store soon, but alas, the mother had chosen the wrong bread and off goes the cashier.
Now, I’m really getting antsy. I admit, when it comes to waiting in line on a normal day I get impatient. I glance over at the next lane and see that it is now empty. I tell my daughter to hurry up and take everything off the conveyor belt and back into our cart and go over to the next lane so we can check out. Second Mistake.
Now, I did not say anything to this young mother, nor was I fuming, making a scene or being obviously irritated. But, I am sure that she picked up on my frustration. Just like I picked up on how humiliating this was for her, having to be told what food she could and couldn’t buy, as well the embarrassment of having to receive government funds to feed her little boy in the first place.
Afterwards, I felt like I should apologize. I hadn’t said anything to her, but I did not act like I knew I should. I did not make her burden lighter – I had added to it, and I was ashamed.
I saw her in the parking lot and was trying to form my apology, I wasn’t even sure if she would know why I was apologizing.
When she saw me, she turned to me and said, “Thanks for being so rude” and stormed off to her car. Well, mystery solved, she obviously did know I was annoyed at the wait. The thing was, I hadn’t even been mad – at her, or the new cashier, I had just been a bit irritated at the inconvenience of it all.
Intending to apologize to her before her comment, I was startled by her words. It fact it left me speechless – I didn’t even think of telling her that she was right – I had been rude. I wanted to tell her ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me,” but it was too little too late – she drove off with me standing there in the parking lot, staring after her tail lights. Third mistake.
So, to all the those young mothers out there – especially to those who are struggling just to feed their children, on behalf of all the rude, impatient people in line behind you. I apologize and I’m sorry. I will do better next time. I thought I was a better person than that, but unfortunately you caught me at time where I forgot that.
A lot of people are going through a hard time right now with the government shutdowns. My son included, as the National Guard aren’t being paid, which means there is no money for food for him right now. In fact, before the store incident, I had just gone to the post office where I mailed him a care package to help him through this challenging time.
Maybe, we all need to look around us right now and see who could use more a bit more patience and a little more kindness. I promise, I will do better next time. How about you?
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