In Line at Smith’s

Smith’s in Santa Fe

It was before the holidays and I was shopping for a gathering. My cart was full and I had just finished loading it onto the cashier’s conveyor belt. As I began to wonder why the customer in front of me was taking so long, the cashier announced, “Sorry, Hon, register is down. I’m closing.”

“I have to move to another line?” I almost wailed. She nodded and said she would help me put everything back in the cart. I

another time, another place, same scene

thanked her and as I was pulling away from the closed lane, I looked around for the next best choice. The lines were all long.

“Here you go,” gestured a big man who was at the front of the line next to me. “I saw what happened. You deserve a spot right here!” and he stepped back with a swoop of his arm.

Pete’s Place Interfaith Shelter, Santa Fe, refuge for many vets

“That is so nice of you. Thank you so much,” and I moved in and began unloading the cart for the second time. I heard the big man strike up a conversation with the man in back of him. They both were veterans. The big man said he volunteered four nights a week at the local shelter, home for many homeless veterans. They compared service history, both Vietnam. I turned and added that my husband was a Vietnam vet, too, and I thanked the big man for helping out.

The belt began to move and I was preoccupied with getting the bottles of wine into the right shopping bag and sticking my card into the reader.

I heard the big man say, “…well, I don’t really give a damn….they can do whatever they want …. doesn’t make any difference to me…I say we just keep doing what we’re doing…”

I assumed he was talking about Washington, DC. It was pre-impeachment time and the pros and cons were on everyone’s mind. And I assumed that he was “on my side.”

“You are so right,” I said, turning as I signed the credit card slip. “Just keep doing what we’re doing.”

He smiled. I thanked him again, and pushed my cart out into the flow of traffic heading for the door.

I had a warm feeling. What a nice man. He gave me his place in line, he is volunteering at the homeless shelter, he’s just going to keep doing what he’s doing no matter what, and as for politics, he thinks the way I do… or does he?

I replayed his remarks in my mind. It wasn’t clear. He could have been on my side, or the other side of the political divide. Did that matter? Did it make his kindness to a stranger any less kind? How curious, I thought. Here we are obsessed with who is with us and who’s against us, and here was a simple human interaction that snuck in under that radar. Human to human, kindness, camaraderie, sharing story fragments, common caring. Surely this trumps the political divide…ooops, I went and said it.

Happy shopping — be ready for surprises

14 thoughts on “In Line at Smith’s”

  1. I love this LUCY and you are right we should always accept human kindness for what it is and not judge. A great way to spend the beginning of the first day of the year reading your blog. Happy New Year.

    1. Thanks, Peggy. If I were to make a new year’s resolution (which I gave up long ago) it would be to curb my judgements! They do nothing but get in the way of what might unfold…even in the checkout line.

  2. Amen to that. Our HUMANITY trumps (sorry!) the divide. And beyond our humanity—simply being fellow earthlings on this miraculous spinning blue planet. I hope I live long enough to see people beginning to realize we’re fellow passengers on the same ship. Happy 2020, Lucy! Thanks for giving us a great start!

  3. Thanks, Lucy. Beautifully said. Joyous new year to you and Roberto. Judy

  4. Well. Happy New Year to begin with. Then, I’m not sure. Obviously it’s nice to be nice. Kindness, of course.
    But there’s a guy at my supermarket who stands by the place where you pick up newspapers – local ones, freebies and the NYTimes etc., and when you put out a hand to take a paper, he shouts (and yes, the decibel level is high), “FAKE NEWS.” The Powers that be at Hannafords don’t seem to have a solution for this idiot, and I personally am about to kick him in the shins.

    Sorry. Myv.

    1. Ah, Myv, my heart goes out to you. My blood pressure rises just to think about him. What can we do? There is a time for shin-kicking….

  5. Know that feeling . Its a time that is dividing us. Good to be aware. We’ll done

    1. Thanks, Zenia. No one has done more to unite us across cultures than you two. Bali Art Project is a lifework to be so proud of.

  6. I love your notion of suspending judgement. I think we can also apply that to the sometimes harsh judgements we apply to ourselves. Thanks for sharing this experience of human kindess.

  7. Oh Lucy, so good to get the important lessons from you. We miss you madly on the big island! Blessings to you and Roberto this year and always.
    Becca and Peter

    1. Becca! We miss you two and your gorgeous lanai, great food and drink and the warmest aloha anywhere. Hope you are all well. We send lots of love.

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