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The other day I was grocery shopping. Just so you know, I HATE grocery shopping. Well, hate might be a strong word but I STRONGLY DISLIKE it. In fact, I strongly dislike any form of errand running.
I admit grocery shopping has become a place for me to exercise my patience. To recognize that not everyone wants to (or can) move at the speed I am. I confess it is humbling to realize that not everyone is out to ‘get me’ by moving slowly in the store or having the need to pause and look around. As I said, it is an exercise in patience.
One of the ways I exercise this patience is to play the “Can I make them smile?” game. This game is as simple as it sounds, as I move around the grocery store I try to make eye contact and be as friendly as possible to see how many people I can get to smile with me. Not to the point of annoyance, but when someone is flipping through coupons and blocking my path to the milk, I try to be as polite as possible, make eye contact and smile. Or when someone obsessing over the perfect soup blocks the aisle I try to be friendly and crack a joke so they will smile.
Because I tend to struggle the most with my patience when I am waiting in the check out line–this tends to be where my smile charm comes on the most. This particular time the lines were long and by the time I got up to the front of the line, the clerk was visibly tired and worn out. I flashed her my most empathetic smile, tried to ‘chat her up’ and basically got nothing. I admit I was bummed, yes she was probably tired but I was pulling out all the stops and getting nowhere.
As she rang up my long line of items, her boss came up and said to her, you can close your line now. With visible relief she turned off her light and placed the closed sign at the end of her lane. I said something about being glad to go home and how she must be relieved and she looked at me and said, “Yes, I have been working double shifts to keep everything a float and I am just down right exhausted”. “Ugh, I bet!” I replied. “Hope you have some time today to take for yourself–sounds like you earned it.” She then looked at me somewhat startled and finally a small smile crept across her face and she said, “Thank you so much, you just made my day”. As I walked away I was smiling too 🙂 It was a great reminder that we all have a story. We all need a little lesson in patience, a little empathy and a smile.
Where can you spread a little love today? What tasks cause you to need a lesson in patience?