I was at the grocery store the other day, and was feeling really rushed. I had just picked up the food for that evening’s event, and felt like I was cutting it close with timing.
After estimating the number of items in my cart, I dashed to the “15 Items or Less” checkout stand. With only one person ahead of me, and no one looking like they were going to file in behind, I figured this was the best way to get out of there in a hurry.
As I unloaded my cart, a man joined the line behind me. He had a hand basket with just two items in it. He surveyed my load of groceries, and assumed an expression of supreme exasperation.
So what did I do? I treated him like I treat everyone. I smiled and said hello.
He sighed loudly, pointedly looked at the sign that indicated the grocery items limit, and under his breath muttered, “Hmm… wish some people knew how to count…”
Oh boy. I hate conflict, but for some reason, this situation immediately struck me as comical! I still don’t know what was going on in my head.
I looked at him, and then looked at my items (which up until then I still hadn’t counted), and said, “I didn’t count, did I?” I counted up my items and came up with 17. Whoops! Call the grocery police!
Smiling, I then said to the man, “I’m 2 items over, would you like to go ahead of me?”
And here’s the punch line… he said NO!
At that point, it took every ounce of my restraint not to laugh out loud. Lest you feel sorry for this man, understand that I felt like laughing, not just because of the situation at hand, but also because I wanted to laugh at myself. It was like looking in a mirror.
The situation fully embodied this phrase that a mentor of mine asked me over and over: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to have peace?”
I can think of so many times in my life when I was literally handed a way out of a frustrating situation, but rather than allowing myself to experience relief, I chose a stance of self-righteousness. But I was RIGHT, damn it!!!
Can you relate?
This poor guy, I truly meant him no harm. He had no idea what was in my heart that day, and he has no idea how, in an odd way, he uplifted me. I left the store that day with my shopping cart, ran a few steps with it, and then rode it like a scooter to my car, thinking, “I CHOOSE PEACE!”
Norma Behrends says
I liked the fact that you proved we are all human. And you wanted to
be be cortious
Thanks, Norma. I try to remember that we’re all doing our best, and are not all on the same page on the same day. Some days I do better than others, that’s for sure, and I just hope people make the effort to see my heart, rather than my cranky exterior on those not-so-great days.
Carrie Johnson says
LOVE it Mary!
Thanks, Carrie! The ordinary stuff is such fertile ground for humor and insight, don’t you think?
Joann Price says
Great story Mary! Do you suppose you diffused his anger or did he just want something to grumble about? Now I’m gonna go look for a shopping cart to ride! :^D
He was definitely not diffused. Nor a-mused!
Betty Goodwin says
Sorry he was not diffused or amused, but I think you handled the whole situation great – including riding the shopping cart! Choose Peace every time you can.
Michia Casebier says
Thanks so much for this, Mary! What a great and very inspiring story. Just for future reference, I ride my shopping carts as often as possible. Of course, it helps that I’m the size of a 12-year old, and unless folks get close enough to see all my grey hair, I tend to get away with it…
Michia – you crack me up!!! Thanks for the smile.
Dr. Marta Adelsman says
Great article, Mary! Sounds like you were practicing un-attachment to the mind’s antics. Congratulations!
“Antics”! That is a great word to describe what my mind engages in a lot of the time, Marta!
Theresa Weeding says
Great blog post! I’m a firm believer that the need to be “right” is at the core of all conflict.
Christal Spring says
He was not just a “poor man”, he was a human being who deserved compassion, gratitude, love, understanding, etc….maybe even a light touch on the arm, a warm look in his eyes, especially as he allowed you to keep your position of being right.
Mary Cravets says
You’re absolutely right, Christal. And using the word “poor” was a simple word choice, but perhaps not the best one to describe how I felt as I reflected. It was like I said, looking in a mirror at that sweet human spirit spot inside each of us. The spot that does its best, bumps up against other humans, learns, falls down, dances, sings… and all of the other crazy stuff we do. So maybe the word is “sweet”. The man was definitely my guru that day…