be patient and show compassion, or how i waited in line at target

02 July 2014


i was in target the other day buying whiteboard cleaner-spray, because i was tired of fighting with our whiteboard calendar on our fridge each month when i had to scrape off month-old events from the board. my excitement level for this one little thing was pretty disproportionate. i know.

after grabbing the $6 spritzer bottle of miracle spray (it makes the words on the board disappear! it's a miracle!), i made a beeline for the 10 items or less express checkout lane. the only other lane open had like 7 people in line with shopping carts full of stuff.

just as i was getting in line, a 30-something mom with a cart full of beach stuff and groceries wedged herself in front of me in the line, which was annoying because i obviously only had ONE THING in my hands! nevertheless, i tried not to seethe as i mentally counted the things in her cart (about 20 items), my legalistic side debating whether or not to call her out on her blatant social mis-step. she obviously didn't want to wait in the long line with all the other people with over 10 things, and her entitled attitude made me angry. what gives her the right? everyone else with that much stuff is waiting their turn over there in line!

then, it was her turn and the cashier with special needs asked her how her day was going, kind of awkwardly. he asked what was new with her life, and she just ignored him! again, i almost spoke up and said something to her about her carelessness towards others. the cashier kept smiling and repeating his question, "what's new in your life?" until she finally looked at the ground and mumbled, "oh, me? i didn't know who you were talking to," still not answering his question or even giving him a feeble smile. i'm not saying that his chatter was off-putting, because it sort of was. but he was ringing up her $145 worth of items just fine, so the least she could have done was responded to him!

(of course, when it came to be my turn, i was on the phone and thus unable to chat with him about how his day was going or "what was new" in his life, but i did manage to look him in the eyes and thank him sincerely when he handed my bagged whiteboard spray and change.)

the whole infuriating situation got me thinking though. the lady's lack of patience and entitlement in notttt waiting in her proper line with all the other target shoppers was mirrored by my own impatience and "how dare she" attitude. and her cold, indifferent attitude towards the cashier wasn't any better than my angry assessment of the situation. maybe she had had a long day dealing with bratty toddlers, or maybe she was in a rush to get home and cook dinner for the kids she was just buying beach toys for, or maybe she was just having an off day and needed to get out of there. in the end, i wasn't patient or compassionate with her, and i'm a follower of Jesus, so i have even less of an excuse. God has only ever been loving and merciful to me, so shouldn't i be quick to offer that to others?

my takeaway from that encounter in the express lane at target: be patient and show compassion.

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