Today I found myself inside Costco, the large warehouse chain store in the U.S., perhaps they are elsewhere, not sure. As my wife was shopping for fruits and vegetables, I was mesmerized with a display of gloves. They were the sportwear brand, HEAD, and were labeled as “running gloves.” Now, I am not about to start running, I can barely walk on my bad knee, but I am quite fond of light, comfortable gloves that are being sold for only $11. I was deep in analysis of color and size when suddenly I felt as if I was back in high school playing football.
Something quite large hit me on the side of my leg, hip, and waist. Honestly, the first thought I had was that I had just been tackled. Fortunately, the large display of very awesome gloves was also very sturdy and helped me to keep my balance, but I was shocked and a little confused.
“Oh…my…God. Are you alright? I didn’t see you. This poinsettia was in my way. Oh, I am so sorry.”
The woman saying that was pushing a full cart and in that top section, where purses fit and toddlers sit, was indeed a very big and, if I may so, beautiful poinsettia. I was still a bit confused thinking how fast was she moving down these crowded isles blinded by a poinsettia?
“I am so sorry. Are you sure you are okay?”
She was as upset as I was surprised that it might be possible to be killed by a poinsettia while selecting a pair of gloves to purchase, but I did feel quite sorry for her. She was truly upset and embarrassment was starting to set in too.
“I am fine. I just thought for a moment I was playing football again. I am good. It’s all good.”
She sheepishly continued going down the isle, but right behind the scene of the accident, a man was pushing his cart and he saw the whole thing. The eyewitness said, “You okay? I thought she knew you at first. I thought at first she was your wife.”
“Nah, never met and if my wife was mad enough to run me over with a grocery cart, I probably wouldn’t still be standing.”
The eyewitness chuckled and said, “Yeah, me too.”
He continued down the isle and as I went another direction I saw him talking briefly with the poinsettia lady. She still seemed upset.
A minute or so later, with my newly selected pair of gloves in my hand, I found myself in another isle and again next to the eyewitness. He saw me limping. “Wow, now you’re limping pretty good.”
“Oh, I’ve been limping like this for over 50 years,” I said.
Suddenly I felt an urge to tell him a little more and I knew it was socially risky, but that is one advantage of being 69 years old – you can get away with some of those eccentric behaviors.
“Let me tell you something. This morning I got up before 5 o’clock and as I sat in my chair thinking about life and the new day, I decided I needed to act more lovingly and I made it my resolution for the day. I get a little cranky and irritable and I don’t always act kindly. So I guess I was just given the chance.”
The eyewitness did not seem comfortable with this information from a complete stranger. Still he said, “I thought you handled it really well.”
“I passed the test, huh? Well, be careful what you put out there because you just never know what you’ll set in motion. Take care.”
Three complete strangers came together in one moment. Is it all just random nothingness? Or, is God, whatever that is, just playing a dice game with us? Or, did I need this moment for my own sake? Was it purposeful? Did the poinsettia lady need this encounter? Did the eyewitness need to hear my morning confession for some reason? Did all three of us need this moment?
Then I looked around the crowded store, everybody seemed anxious, stressed, hurried and isolated as they tried to get around and by one another – typical Christmas season vibe in retail – no eye contact, no acknowledgement of other human beings being very close to you. I saw people getting frustrated when the person pushing their own cart in front of them would slow down, or heaven forbid, stop, to look at an item. I did not see one single smile and certainly no laughter. They were moving fast and doing so blinded to others and they didn’t have a beautiful poinsettia to blame. I realized, I was the same way just a few minutes before when I was solely concentrating on purchasing a pair of gloves.
I needed a slice of life.
God bless you.