Early this morning I was at the Ingles’ grocery store deli counter trying to order some cold cuts. But the attendant seemed to be busy cleaning the cutter at that moment, probably as part of the start-of-day routine, so I decided to walk on and do some shopping to give her time to finish the job. I lingered a little longer throughout the store since I was in no particular hurry, until I eventually made my way back to the deli complete my purchases. To my surprise, I found a much frazzled and very apologetic deli attendant. She immediately engaged me in conversation, apologizing for not taking care of me immediately before, carrying on in an almost manic way so as to–it seemed–make sure I had no hard feelings, nor possibly think to lodge a complaint against her, an idea as far from my mind as the Man in the Moon.
I was immediately touched by the notion that I possibly might have had the power to affect her life in unsuspected ways. If I had allowed myself to become aggravated by not being served right away, WHEN I WAS GOOD AND READY, as we are sometimes so wont to expect, I might have caused her irreparable harm: a black mark on her record or maybe even the loss of her job. She might already have been dangling from the precipice of joblessness (“one more complaint and you’re outa here!”). A scary thought to say the least. How many times in the course of our lives do we, through unintended acts of insensitivity and recklessness cause harm to others without knowing it? How many times do we say something that may have ramifications beyond our wildest imaginations? How many times do we touch the lives of others in negative ways just because, in our sense of entitlement we believe that the world does indeed revolve around us, and we disregard any extenuating circumstance that may cause others to do what they do (or not do), when we want it and how we want it? This apparently insignificant episode of daily life has given me pause, hence my desire to put this in writing–for whatever it’s worth. Others may see it or not, may react to these words or not, but hopefully it might make people like you and I take stock and be more aware of the lives of those around us. Perhaps it may make a difference in somebody’s life, in a positive way for a change.