You know how I had to buy gorgeous poster board for my son’s Star Student project? Well, I just wanted to share a quick story from the trip to the store to get it because it kind of made my day.
Place: The Dollar Tree store located a mile from our house; approx. 5:30 p.m. (aka rush hour)
Mission: run into store to purchase the 2/$1 poster board, pay, and get home within 20 minutes total time.
The scene: one register open, 15 people waiting to pay; I am second in line behind a tiny little lady who could not have been younger than 107, who had no teeth, and had a half-full shopping cart of random items that you find in the house of a hoarder. Now, imagine the average shopper who frequents the dollar store after work getting more and more agitated by the wait in line. (I know what I am getting into by going to this particular type of store to save 35 cents so I don’t get as irritated as I am kind of excited to get away by myself for a few minutes, even if it is just to wait forever in a line)
Now that you have the setup, please relive the actual events that occurred in line at register 3.
Cashier: “How are you today, ma’am?”
Old lady in front of me (I’m going to call her “Ethel” from this point on): “Just fine, just fine….could you tell me how much that is?” (pointing to a hideous cat figurine)
Cashier: “That’s $1.”
Ethel: “And how much that is?” (pointing to a pot of some sort)
Cashier: “That’s $1 too, dear.” She continues scanning more things until Ethel realizes that the price is starting to add up.
Ethel: “How much are we up to now, honey?”
Cashier (now known as “Saint”): “$26”
Ethel: “$26!!! Oh no, child, that’s too much!” (This is when another cashier finally emerges and there is a mad exodus to the other line. I decide to wait it out with Ethel because I want to see what she is going to do now that she has reached her limit and still has about 15 things in the cart. I’m invested in her happiness, too.)
Saint: “Do you want me to take a few things off?”
Ethel: “Well, I gotta take something off….let’s see….(cut to 30 seconds later after some serious thought)….how much that is that?” (pointing to a can of cat food)
Saint: “That’s $1.”
Ethel: “$1?! Oh no, child, take that off!” (Apparently, $1 is not too much to spend on a cat figurine, but it is too much to spend on feeding a real cat. She continues to take a few things off like flower seeds, a greeting card, an egg beater, a flash light and applesauce. I’ll admit the applesauce removal was surprising because I figured that mushy food would be something to keep if you have no teeth, but our girl Ethel continues to be an enigma. Saint then has to call over a manager because she reached the limit of her void power all on Ethel’s order. Ethel is busy looking into her cart with the extra items and pulls out 4 packs of batteries from the stash) “How much are these here?”
Saint: “Those are $1.”
Ethel: “Lord, well, let me have these two and I’m just going to leave you with the rest of this.”
Saint: “Ok, dear, that will be $26.83.”
Ethel: “Let me get out my change purse. Here’s $1, $2, $3….(she then hands her 27 dollar bills, one by one, with great care).
Saint: “Here’s your change, ma’am. Don’t forget your bags.”
Ethel: “Oh, honey, you know I was about to walk out of here without my treasures! Now y’all have a blessed day now, hear?” And, she shuffles out the door.
Now, some would be irritated with how long that whole process took (literally about 20 minutes just for her and everyone but me that had been waiting in line was already gone) but I found it fascinating, especially because the Cashier was so patient with Ethel! My check out time was approx. 15 seconds and I was out the door before Ethel made it to the parking lot, but she looked at me and smiled a big toothless grin and kept on keeping on.
Who knows why Ethel was buying the things she was buying or where she was headed with them, but she was happy and that made me smile. (I am still smiling remembering her asking how much every item was at the $1 store and at her reaction when something cost more than it did in 1957 – I was convinced that I was on Candid Camera for a few minutes).
Obviously, I did not succeed on my mission to get to and from the store in 20 minutes, but I had a lovely life experience! I can only hope that I am as happy as Ethel when I am older (right now I see myself as the cranky old man from UP) and/or that people are as nice and as patient with me as the saintly cashier was with Ethel. I need to start practicing that patience today!!! Lord knows my kids give me plenty of opportunities to do just that!
Now in the words of wise, little Ethel, “y’all have a blessed day, hear?!” 🙂