Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

My idiocy is well-documented on this blog, but I really outdid myself yesterday. I went to the grocery after work, in the midst of a (barely) snowstorm, two days before Thanksgiving. And not only that, I went to the bad Kroger, the one with long lines and not enough cashiers, the one with questionable produce at the best of times, all because it’s five minutes closer than the good Kroger. I always do this. The good Kroger is so nice. It’s newer, everyone who works there smiles and says hi and asks if you need help instead of glaring at you or avoiding eye contact, and they always ask me if I’d like help out to my car. I would never, ever take them up on that, but I like being asked. It makes me feel like a 50s housewife for a moment (and a moment is really the only length of time I ever want to feel like a 50s housewife).
Her eyes are screaming.

I walked around the store, doubling back now and then as I inevitably forgot something, and spent my time mentally killing everyone in my path. The woman examining a box of band-aids, somehow blocking two aisles: DEAD. The man careening one of those stupid car carts down an aisle while his screaming children orbited around it like flies on a turd: DEAD. The lady standing in front of the bananas, blocking the entire display with her cart, while she obliviously chattered away on her phone: DOUBLE DEAD.

As I walked down the baking aisle, scowling at the world in front me, my brain looked like this:

I made this myself.

And then this lady, an older woman who was being trailed by several grandchildren, started coming down the aisle. I was already mentally rolling my eyes as her grandchildren splintered away and she slowly rolled her cart down the very middle of the aisle. However, she maneuvered her cart to one side when she saw me and then she completely erased my bad mood. It was like magic.

“Do I need nutmeg? Hmm, I can’t remember if I need nutmeg,” she said to the grandchildren who were no longer behind her. She kept walking, paying no mind, then looked straight at me.

“What do you think, honey? Do I need nutmeg?” she asked.

And without even thinking, I blurted out, “Of course, you can never have too much nutmeg. I bet you’ll be glad you have it.” She laughed and thanked me for my help, then continued making her way down the aisle as I exited the other end, grinning like a fool.

It reminded me, almost exactly, of a commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave called This is Water. Have you heard it? Here, just watch it. I know ten minutes of internet video is like ten hours of real time, but I promise you that it’s worth it.

I wish I could tell you that, after my short interaction with that lady, I made a conscious effort to pull my head out of my ass and remind myself that no one else in the store really wanted to be there either, and maybe I did, for a few moments, until someone else entered my glare zone. So, you know. Can't really put that one in the win column.

Although, at least I’ve got the perspective now, right? And just in time for Thanksgiving, too.

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