Two days ago, I went to the grocery store. Not just any grocery store, I went to the busy one at 11:30 AM on a Sunday morning.
The store was packed. Aisles were hard to navigate, and the scene was like something out of a pile up on the freeway. Some carts were pulled over on the side trying to find something, while others darted through small breaks to speed to the next lane. Our turn signals didn’t work, neither did the brake lights and you could sense that tension in the air around every corner, and there were a few small collisions.
As I approached the registers, it was quite a sight. Every register was open, and there was a line of at least four carts in every line. Behind the carts was a massive group of additional carts trying to figure out which line to join, and how to navigate from the group to an individual line.
The manager made an announcement.
“We know that today is busy, but please turn your carts to the side because the lines are so long, we need additional space in the front of the store.”
It was at this moment, I began to observe everyone around me. I slowed down and just began to watch. I also noted the time on my cell phone.
Frowns, swears, and grumbling.
Angrily moving carts to the side.
Hands being thrown up in the air.
Then the voices began to chime in.
“I can’t believe that everyone is shopping today, there is no need for this, you would think we are having a snow storm!”
“Why do we have to turn out carts to the side? I don’t need this!”
My cart eventually found its way from the group to a line, and it slowly edged toward the belt. I loaded my groceries and kept looking around. The bagger was working furiously to keep this line moving and asked the person in front of me if they wanted some larger item bagged or just placed in the cart.
“Just put it in a bag, this would go faster if you didn’t ask such questions!”
They looked towards me for some sort of approval of their statement. I didn’t.
When I arrived at the register, the cashiers were changing shifts. They both looked at me through weary eyes and kept apologizing for the wait. The bagger looked tired as well.
I paused, looked at them all and then something came out of my mouth that I think surprised all of them.
“I just want to thank all of you for working so hard to help us get our groceries today.”
I looked at the assortment of items on the belt, and suddenly I understood what an amazing time it is to be alive. I saw bread, various meats, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, and some berries.
“I mean it, think of all the time your little team here has saved me. I didn’t have to harvest my own crops, grind my own grains, bake this bread, tend to my garden, raise a bunch of chickens, cows and pigs. I really should be thanking you for saving me so much time, I can go home and simply watch TV all afternoon if I want. So THANK YOU.”
Smiles appeared on those weary faces. The bagger seemed to stand more upright and kept smiling as they placed items in my bags, and asked me about larger items.
The mood changed. The actual situation didn’t change. The lines were still long, but the perspective changed.
Instead of being angry, I chose being grateful.
Instead of complaining, I chose to say thanks.
As I made my way out to the car, I checked the time again. It had been 17 minutes. Just 17 minutes to accomplish what it would have taken my great, great, great, great grandparents weeks of labor to create. Those grandparents would have never imagined fresh berries and fruit in the winter, or bread you simply grab from the shelf, or the leisure time that I am now afforded.
Where can you choose to be grateful? Where can you thank those around you?