13 February 2008

to fill a jug of water

Earlier this morning, with an empty three-gallon water jug and two whining kiddos in tow, with a morning of frustrations and annoyance percolating an inch below my surface and with the 30-minutes and $1 left that I barely had to spare (a long story; another post), I made the 12-minutes-each-way trek to Vitamin Cottage.

I'll just run in, fill the jug and head home, so I can start reading...

To save myself a little time and a lot more frustration, I decided to leave the kids in the car.

Darn, only two cashiers with lines three people deep...

I dashed for the water dispenser and impatiently tapped my foot as it took an eternity to fill my bottle. The stream of water finally reached the top of the jug, and without skipping a beat, I grabbed my water, screwed on the lid and turned to see the cashier in lane one standing at her register alone.


Now with a full bottle in tow, I approached the register and found an unattended shopping cart and groceries on the counter. Ms.-oh-I-just-have-to-grab-one-more-thing finally made her way back to her cart and spilled a couple bags of banana chips and soup before the cashier. Of course she had coupons (I didn't even know you could use coupons at Vitamin Cottage) and of course, as she reviewed her receipt, she noticed that she was charged $2.89 for a carton of soup that had been marked down to a dollar.

"You've got to be kidding me," I heard my mind say as I shifted my weight and lifted the now-heavy jug of water onto the corner of the counter.

"Blah, blah, blah," I'm not sure of the words the two women exchanged. I had a hard time blocking out the sound of the boiling emotions and growing impatience that were bubbling from my chest, up my throat, to my face. I stepped out of myself just in time to hear the cashier's amplified voice on the loud speaker request, "M.O.D. to register one." Finally, I noticed the name on her nametag: Barb.

I shifted again, bit my lip, counted my breaths and dropped my head.

Meanwhile, lanes three and four opened up, and two lucky shoppers came and went. In that moment, my finances, my frustrations, my morning (with all it's inconveniences), my schedule, my whining kiddos who I left in the car, my week... made their way to register one.

"I'm sorry," the coupon lady apologized to Barb, who was obviously flustered now as she began to fill out a return slip. "Why don't you help her first," she finally suggested.

Thank the LORD.

Seventy-eight cents and what felt like a lifetime later, I raced out of Vitamin Cottage, dropped the water jug on the floor of the car and got in my seat.

9:47 a.m.

As I drove the 12-minutes back to my house,
my mind raced through the list of things I had to do and settled on the cashier and the warm brown eyes behind her glasses.

What was her name again? Oh yes, Barb.

he reality of this morning finally occurred to me. I was that girl - the one who nearly causes an accident to get in front of ONE car on the freeway, only to face a red light a few minutes later. I was that guy - quart-of-ice-cream-guy - who could have burned a hole in the back of my head one night at Safeway because I was the MOD-to-register-one lady in front of him in the 10-items-or-less lane.

This morning, I lost a few minutes and was racing back home for what? I was so focused on myself that I lost sight of everyone else FOR WHAT? This morning, I disrespected not one, but two women whom God created in His glorious image FOR WHAT? For five minutes?!?!

The kiddos ran out back to play as soon as we got home, and then something unexpected happened: I stopped to listen. Just beneath the cacophony of my mind, I heard the steady rhythm of my heart... I set down my jug of water, and picked up the phone.

"Hello, Vitamin Cottage, this is Jen..."

Heart racing, I asked for Barb. Once she was on the other end of the line, I was finally able to see past myself. I apologized to Barb for taking the frustrations of my morning out on her. I apologized for allowing my impatience to rob her of the respect she was due . I apologized for being that girl...

"May the Lord bless you," Barb said as we hung up the phone.

And He did.


Roxanne said...

I'm so glad I read this post before stopping in the grocery store last night to pick up a can of frosting to finish the heart shaped cake I had started but ran out of icing half way through decorating. I was in a hurry and being the night before valentines day the store was packed...I quickly grabbed my 1 item and headed for the express lane (the self check line was super long)...I ended up behind a man and his 2 children who clearly had way more than 15 valentine items in their basket.

I was a little annoyed but I thought of your post, I smiled and told the girl (who looked to be around 12) that she was going to make somebody very happy. Her dad smiled back and said that they were taking them to the Children's Hospital to drop off along with their Miracle Network Donation.

I was floored and stood there speechless. I noticed the woman behind me was clearly getting annoyed by the extra minute it took to ring up their order and was obsessively checking her watch and huffing, saying out loud that she was now going to be late. I wanted to turn and say something but I choose to ignore her.

As the dad paid and the kids collected the bags...I stepped over and handed the little girl my $20 dollar bill and asked her if she could please add it to their donation. She smiled and said “Thanks...Happy Valentines Day.”

Now out of cash…I thought about slowly writing out a check for $1.23 just to further annoy the woman behind me…but I didn't instead I quickly swiped my debit card and was out of her way.

Sorry this is a very long way of saying “Thank you Abi, you’re continually my inspiration.”

Abi said...

I LOVE this story, Roxanne. Definitely puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Thank YOU.

Jen said...

I've been there and thought about it later, but never called to apologize. I feel like I need to spend some quality time with the phone book looking up numbers now. Way to go Abi, you listened to your heart and the urgings of the Holy Spirit!