Yesterday, I gathered up my 22 year old daughter and let her know I was going to buy her a bunch of groceries to stock up. Why? Because everyone is going crazy hoarding groceries, which unfortunately, forces the rest of us who are not panicking, and making an effort to stay calm, the domino-affect of having to go buy more than our normal weekly shop; to stock up in case there’s nothing left. Oh! The cascade of it all!
We arrived at our community grocery store, the small, local store we have shopped in our neighborhood for the past 5 years. Familiar faces, and always friendly, helpful employees. Yes, we knew it would be a bit of mayhem, and yes, anticipated the lines. There were no carts out front. Employees were hustling as fast as they could, but they appeared to be short-handed with only two checkouts open.
My daughter and I got two carts from outside and took them in. Both of us being single, we usually just shop with a handheld basket, but of course, today was not that day.
The panic of people was trying to settle itself on my daughter, but I stayed so calm, and that was the winning residue. She stuck pretty close to me with her cart while we shopped, and we laughed when we ended up in front of the Clif Bars as they had the new Vanilla Latte Coffee flavored bar and I began to tell her all about it. I told her how I just discovered this at the Banff Festival since they were one of the sponsors and handed them out, and how a girl just can’t even believe how delicious this flavor is with a shot of espresso in it. A couple people next to us started listening when I also shared that it’s gluten-free and dairy-free. I should be getting paid for that little advertisement in the aisle. But the point is, I was not going to rush into a frenzy in the store grabbing things off the shelf. No, we walked slowly, shopped for what we needed, and laughed a bit in the midst of it. And every time I came to an employee quickly trying to re-stock shelves with obvious stress, I stopped to look in their eyes and ask how they were doing, then told them they were doing a great job. Each time, I saw a little of their anxiety ebb.
When we were ready to checkout, there were only two checkout stations open (besides the self-checkout) so, naturally, there were long lines; probably at least 5 full carts in front of us. We waited, quiet and patient. After a while I looked behind my daughter’s full cart to see a little old man, I’d say in his 90’s, hunched over a bit, with a handheld basket sitting at his feet with only a few items in it. He was not in the self-checkout lane. I asked him to come get in front of me in the checkout. No one in front of me, with all those full carts were looking behind them. It seemed eyes were just down, focused only on what they needed. People! Please look up!!!
Yes, I rang up a bill bigger than I have spent on groceries in over 5 years (back when I was buying groceries for a family of 5). I chatted a bit with the checkout employee and got her to smile. Told her she was doing amazing at non-stop lightening speed. After my daughter and I unloaded our groceries into the car, we collected a few carts randomly parked in the lot and took them to the front.
My wish is that everyone will look around. Take the time to see who needs help, and who needs a kind word. Sometimes it is the very smallest actions that really help. And then, the next person that saw you do it, may do it too. Let’s make the domino-affect be one that is positive, rather than one that is mayhem.