I made a quick stop at our local Trader Joe’s today; we had our neighbors/friends over for dinner and I needed to pick up just a few items for what I kept referring to as ‘the last supper’. As much as I resist, summer is coming to an end, and fall is just around the very next corner. Somehow, dinner on the patio just tastes better.
If you have a Trader Joes where you live, or have shopped at one even once, you must be familiar with their notoriously small parking lots and narrow aisles. It usually feels like this when pulling into their parking lot.
Today was no exception, and was perhaps exacerbated by the holiday. I always have to brace myself for the parking lot wars that I know will ensue on a busy day. As I pulled in, I was half in the street and half in the lot; and I felt more than a little agitated with my back side feeling so exposed.
Simultaneously aware of how very nice people seem to morph into the Hyde-like versions of their otherwise Jekkyl selves once their wheels hit the parking lot asphalt, and an eye on my back half, I noticed a car coming from the right inching, inching, trying to get in the line to find a spot. My initially indignant self gave way to a friendly wave to the driver to merge in. I didn’t feel like doing battle, and on the way to the store, I had been thinking about the small choices we make every day and the variety of impacts even a small choice can have on us and others. Thinking of it that way, I really had left myself no option. But perhaps that’s the way it should be?
Once in the store, I grabbed the items I needed, darting aisle to aisle, forgetting the parking lot, focused on blueberries, wine, mozzarella cheese and olives. As I paid and grabbed my bag, I turned back to thank the woman at the cashier and instead see a gentleman smiling at me who says, ‘thanks so much for letting me in, out there in the parking lot earlier!‘ My silly, speechless, grin in return summarized my surprise that he recognized me, that he ended up in the same check-out line, the irony that I checked out ahead of him and my mini a-ha moment of how, yes, how indeed, one small action can impact the rest of our day.
And to me, this is really about that other person, that man. My actions should not even count as a choice; unless you count the one where I considered not letting him in. He felt gratitude and he expressed it, he didn’t have to say a word. That he even recognized me says something – I sure didn’t take notice of him. For all I knew, his inching in could have just been a passing thing, a mindless expectation, maybe even someone just being a jerk. But instead, he chose to ‘see’ me and say thanks.
For that, I am still grinning, because, well, you just never know.