Last night, a couple of young ladies came through the line, wearing swim suits with sheer coverings, which is not uncommon. They bought milk, chocolate candy and diapers. They were likeable, a little frazzled, and I was glad that these young mothers were getting to have a little holiday.
However, they had trouble paying for their items. Their phone app didn’t work and they hadn’t brought their actual credit cards. As the moments went on, the line behind them got longer.
An old woman right behind them, waiting to buy a pound of cheese, was very impatient, rolling her eyes and sighing loudly several times. At one point, she leaned forward and said, “You know, there are other people in line here, ladies.
At that point, I transferred their transaction to customer service so they could get more help than I could give them. Then I took care of the woman and her cheese quickly
I found myself steaming at the old lady. She had to wait maybe four minutes longer to be served and she used it as an opportunity to spread a little verbal poison to two younger, prettier ladies. Could she remember being young and poor, and wanting to get out and play a little? Probably not.
After she left, I took care of a middle aged couple who had a lot of groceries. The man stepped away for a moment so I chatted with the woman as I rang up her items. She was nice but a little distracted.
When the husband returned, she said, “Did you take care of them?”
Just then the two young ladies came by and spoke to the gentleman. “Thank you so much, sir!” they said cheerily as they left.
He smiled and waved.
“Sir,” I said, “Did you pay for their groceries?”
He nodded once more. I could see that this couple wasn’t poor, but I wonder if they had been in the past, like so many of us.
I thanked him and said, “You’re a class act.”
I wonder what the old cranky woman did after she left. I could imagine she went home, and told her family and friends how she had stood up to those shameless women who held up the line. I could see her telling people at church about it, tacking on a speech about how young people haven’t been taught to be considerate of others. I’m sure she would have caste herself as the victim who stood up for herself.
I’m trying to feel more kindly toward her. Maybe the precious four minutes she lost were somehow vitally important. Maybe she needed to get right home to someone desperate for their grilled cheese sandwich . But mostly I think she was an angry person who saw an opportunity to make someone else feel bad.
And the couple who quietly helped out… they’re aces in my book.