Big things are little things and little things are big.

I genuinely like our neighborhood grocery store. The people are super nice, and if you go first-thing in the morning, you’re 1 of only a handful of shoppers – which is cool, because I have a problem with cart etiquette, or, rather, other customers’ lack thereof. As nice as the employees are, I still kind of hate grocery shopping.

Oh, woe is me, shopping in a well-stocked Midwestern grocery where everything is reasonably priced and I’m not confined by a difficult budget.

The store employs several special-needs folks. The guy who talks to himself constantly is a good fit for bringing carts back inside from the parking lot. And there’s a sweet bagger who offers a very practiced greeting every time I go through her checkout lane. Her eyes dance, and she’s always smiling. I try really hard to be fully present when I interact with her, because she’s giving the interaction 100%. I owe her the same.

There’s a new bagger, and he obviously finds his job very challenging. He doesn’t smile or otherwise acknowledge anyone, and, truth be told? He’s not a very good bagger. He takes forever, and produce ends up underneath canned goods. As That Lady who unloads her cart in the order things should be bagged, it kind of hurts me.

But mostly, it hurts me how I find myself impatient and annoyed.

This is someone’s child. This young man concentrates and works really diligently. I should be less focused on his lack of eye contact and my smooshed leafy greens. I need to take the extra time waiting as a moment to send him good vibes and mental thanks. Is it really that big of a deal to spend an extra minute for the luxury of someone else bagging my groceries? Why do I feel so hurried and cranky, anyway? Since when am I such a horrible person?

Today, I decided that my new bagger friend was the Picasso of grocery bagging. Yes, his methods are untraditional, and he has that distant, artistic temperament. But 50 years from now, people will be laughing at my close-minded lack of vision, and how I didn’t appreciate the taste explosion caused when tomatoes rupture slightly inside a grocery bag. This kid’s got greatness.

So, I smiled. I told him “thank you,” even if he didn’t acknowledge me. And I moved on.

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  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin April 1, 2014 at 1:48 am

    You just made my whole evening with this post–I can picture the crew at this store.
    And I shop small and local for the same reasons.
    I really,really,really can't wait for our weekend in Ohio.

  • Reply Sharon Lee Kubichek April 1, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    that is not my child in your town, but it is my child, here in my house, in my town. and i would pay you any amount of money (if i had any) if there was someway you could move here and extend him that same courtesy, instead of the sneers he gets from the people here. he wouldn't acknowledge you either, because the people here have taught not to make eye contact.

  • Reply Molly April 1, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you for this. It gives me hope for the universe and humanity. and that the people who are jerks to the kids I love are going to be outnumbered by folks like YOU.

  • Reply Anonymous April 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm

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  • Reply Anonymous April 2, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I had to edit my comment … Are you talking about the Corinth store? I used to shop there all the time and for quick trips, shopped at the smaller PV store. We lived in PV for 13 years before moving to San Diego for 10 years. My son stayed in KC for a couple of years, married and moved to Ohio for a few years. When he moved back to KC, we moved to OK and while my twin granddaughters were toddlers, I used to go up frequently to help out. I was so thrilled to visit the Corinth and PV store and see some of the same staff you are talking about after so many years. Some of them have been there since 1987 at least, although I know there are some who haven't been there that long. That's one reason I loved shopping there.

  • Reply Cha Cha April 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Melissa: I can't wait for our weekend, either!

    Sharon: My heart is with you. I guess I still want to believe that kindness will turn out to be horribly, terribly contagious. We should all be so lucky.

    Molly: I don't think I'm all that, but thank you.

    Martha: I have lots of homies at that Corinth store! However, this is the HyVee in PV. As an Iowa girl, nothing makes me happier than shopping at an Iowa-based grocery. I guess it's the next best thing to having my mom cook for me.

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