The past few months I’ve made a concerted effort to keep my cell phone in my bag while my groceries are being bagged. Waiting in lines, be it at a store or restaurant, I’ve found wonderful opportunities for connection—with those around me and especially those providing service for me. I’ve received and given endless smiles, stories, discounts, fashion advice, yoga tips, digits for dates…you name it. But only when I’m actually *present* to my surroundings.
Today, I was in line at my local Trader Joes observing a young toddler the next line over. Bubbling and chattering away, she helped deliver every item up to her cashier (after first “balancing” it on her head) and insisted on pushing her mini-cart back to its rightful place. It was charming and completely endearing. As I waited in my line, the mother-daughter duo in front of me stood in silence as our young cashier rang them up. Their cart was PACKED. Every lane was full, with no extra baggers to spare, and in the weekend rush more and more customers were accumulating in every line. Though this family had brought their own canvas bags, they placed them on the counter but continued to simply stand and wait. Our cashier had strained smile on her face, but it was evident she was feeling pressure to work more quickly, unassisted as she was.
Still beaming from the bubbly energy of my nearby young friend, and inspired by her joyous desire to serve, I stepped forward from the middle of the line.
“Can I help you bag items?”
The cashier was hesitant. (And true, I had been hesitant for a moment as well before volunteering.) I in no way wanted to embarrass or shame this mother and daughter, but was simply prompted from a space of joy and connection to serve and participate.
I reassured the cashier, “I’m not in a rush and I’m not feeling impatient at all, I just see you’ve got a lot of groceries there and our little friend in lane 2 looked like she was having so much fun, I thought I’d join the action!”
The strain and pressure on our cashier instantly dissolved. She lit up right up and we began talking about our weekends, joking about produce, and made sure to involve other customers in our banter. What fun! What a game of grocery bagging!
As we finished checking this family out, the mother rather sheepishly thanked me for assisting with her purchase. Again, hoping to mitigate any possible energy of embarrassment I gave her warm smile, and cracked a light-hearted joke. And again, instantly the discomfort dissolved. We smiled and parted ways.
I was so grateful today for this brief moment. Who knew such a small act of service beside a grocery store conveyor belt could convey such fun and connection? Today Trader Joes traded out errands for enjoyment and made the obligatory a practice of one-ness.