There have been times at the grocery store when I have wanted to pull my hair out from being impatient. I only needed a few items, but it seemed that every cashier had suddenly taken a sick day! There might be only one or two lanes open to check out in, but every cart in front of me is piled high with their monthly (okay, it’s probably only weekly, but I tend to exaggerate when I’m antsy!) shopping that will take forever to get through the line! I always let people go ahead of me if they have one or two items, but no one seems to ever do it for me!
When this elderly woman noticed a family’s empty cart, she tried to do just that…but it didn’t turn out like she thought it would!
One hot afternoon, a retired teacher was standing in a long line at the grocery store. She just needed her groceries for the week, but it seemed that at this time in the day, so did everyone else!
Her left leg was throbbing because of too much stress, and she hoped that she had taken all of her pills that the doctor gave her for that day: the ones for her high blood pressure, dizziness, and a host of other illnesses and aches and pains that plagued the elderly. “Thank goodness I retired all those years ago,” she thought to herself. “I just don’t have the energy to teach kids these days.”
She turned to see how many people were in line, and the ones in the back were pushing closer to the counter and were impatiently waiting their turn to pay for their items. The family just behind her, however, had a cart with only a few items while hers was overflowing with groceries. She noticed that the man standing with his pregnant wife and two young children was covered in tattoos. He had tattoos on his arms and neck, which probably meant that he had been to prison.
His face was not shaved and his clothes were worn out and dusty, but he was there with his family and that meant he was probably a good guy!
“You can go ahead,” she motioned to their nearly-empty cart as she stepped back to let the family pass.
“No, no, you should go first!” He insisted, smiling at the kind older woman.
“You’ve got young kids and hardly any items,” she started to argue.
“We should always respect our elders,” the man insisted and refused her offer. Instead, he held out his hand to tell her that she should move up in the line.
A brief smile flickered on her lips as she hobbled in front of him, her leg still bothering her. She decided that she couldn’t let the moment go and turned back to him. “Who taught you such good manners?” She asked, still smiling.
“You did, Mrs. Simpson! In the third grade! You don’t remember me?”
Oh! I’m sure she wasn’t expecting THAT response from this young man! I bet she was prepared for some interesting conversation, but his politeness surprised him. Most people would have jumped at the chance to cut off this poor, tired old woman in the long line, but not this guy! He remembered one of his favorite teachers from school, and he never did forget her valuable lessons! We never know whose lives we will impact, but our words and actions matter to those around us!
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