I haven’t published anything in months. While there are enough heart-wrenching stories to tell, they aren’t for public consumption.
So, while I live some of my life in what may be perceived as an “out loud” fashion, I have unshakable boundaries on deciphering what is or is not shareable and these are as sacred as the relationships I hold most dear to me.
Today, I’m inspired to write and publish. I just returned from “my beloved Jewel.”
For those of you who follow me on social media or on this blog, you know I find nearly all of my Jewel grocery shopping experiences to be adventurous and fun. Today did not disappoint, but was different from the usual hilarity.
I’m on a strict budget and nutritional plan, so I went with a thoughtful list and a staunch commitment not to veer off of it in any manner.
My first stop was the deli. I was ticket #22. As I waited for my number to be called, I was welcoming the new arrivals to the deli counter with a smile. This is something I typically do, but today, my smile evoked various reactions from individuals. As far as I can tell, as I waited at the crowded deli, it breaks down like this:
- A few maybe thought I was totally bonkers and couldn’t understand why in the hell I was smiling at them. I received a few questionable responses.
- Two men believed I was hitting on them and chose to strike up conversations. Both men were older than my father and I’m pretty sure they reside at “The Vi Retirement Community,” which is a very nice place. Good for them for trying to hit on me! I politely declined their advances.
- The remainder of folks gave me a warm smile back and it was so lovely.
The deli is always a potchke on Sundays so I expected I’d be there a while and I was. Finally, I heard, “#22!” Hey, that’s me! So, as I began to order, a conflict between two neighboring women ensued. One woman who arrived after the woman with ticket #24, tried to cut in line and stated (loudly) that she was there first. Now, I’d been there the entire time and as I like to observe all that’s happening around me, I knew that woman who claimed to be there first was either mistaken or not telling the truth.
As both women became angrier, in a flash, so many feelings rushed through me – all that I’ve experienced in the past several months, the madness of our country and world, all of the love that continues to grow in my heart despite its many fractures, my career pressures and options, my impending move to a new house, my beautiful children and my refusal to be a bystander.
I gave a warm smile to the woman who claimed to be there first. I said, “Hi. I’ve been here for a very long time and I believe you are mistaken. This woman, (#24), got here right after I arrived.”
I couldn’t believe what happened next.
After a few expletives, the woman asked, “Who in the hell do you think you are?”
YIKES! I quickly responded with kindness, “I am just hoping I can be helpful. I don’t think you’re trying to cut in line, but isn’t it possible you’re mistaken?” (And #24 chimes in a bit and her temper is escalating as she orders her deli meat, sliced thin.)
More loud expletives from the latecomer and now, #24…
I took a deep breath, now, my eyes a bit teary…
I quietly reminded them that there is a lot of energy going into this argument at the Jewel deli counter. I told them how lucky I feel to be able to order the food I want to order, to be able to pay for it, to have a roof over my head, to be able to hug my children and not be separated from them, and to be safe from immediate harm.
And as I calmly spoke to them, I backed up my heavy cart onto my own foot and ran over my big toe. I screamed, “OWWWWWW!!!!!!!!”
Both women let go of their deli orders and focused on my throbbing, swelling toe. After I pulled myself together and we chatted for a few minutes, we were all friends. We all conversed through our (now respective) deli orders. Both women apologized to each other and to me. We became real about our anger, our tensions, our sadness and all of it was truthful and very touching.
After we said our farewells, the rest of my shopping trip was full of quiet crying. I was moved to joyous tears by the deli counter outcome, but also, I felt like the challenges of the past few years and especially the past several months just washed over me.
Eventually, thanks to my annual chuckle at “pumpkin spice” everything, I returned to my more typical Jewel adventure.
Please, let’s be kind and supportive to each other through these difficult times. We need each other now more than ever.