I was loading my groceries onto the conveyor belt at the grocery store’s checkout when I overheard her comment.
The cashier and her colleague, who was helping her bag the groceries, were briskly processing the groceries of the couple in front of me.
The store was humming and there were long line-ups extending behind me. I had finally made it to the till, and was just beginning to load my groceries onto the belt.
It was then that I overheard the cashier’s comment to her colleague. “I am so thirsty. I have been working for a few hours and I missed my break, and haven’t been able to get something to drink. I am dying of thirst and I don’t get another break for an hour.”
I glanced up at her. And continued to remove my groceries from the cart.
Her colleague nodded. And just kept packing the couple’s groceries.
The couple stared at her. Waiting for her to finish so they could pay.
It was a few minutes later when I noticed another store employee, as she seemed to be approaching our till. She had a water bottle in her hand. The cashier at my till looked at her hopefully and inquired, “Is that your water bottle?”
Her colleague just nodded as she passed by. And began to open the next till.
I began to move towards the exit, struggling to find my way through the crush of people milling about the store.
But all of a sudden I was convicted. Compelled to get some water for the cashier.
I hesitated, slowing my cart. But I continued moving towards the exit. I just wanted to get out of the crowd and get home.
But again, I was convicted. To get some water for the cashier.
I stopped, turned my cart around, and began to move against the current of people streaming towards me.
My initial thought was that I could go to the fast food kiosk and ask for a cup of water. But then I spied a pop machine. And discovered that it sold water bottles, 25 cents each.
I purchased one, carried it to the cashier, and quietly handed it to her. Her initial response of delighted surprise, quickly shifted into gratitude as she began to drink deeply.
I am certainly not sharing this story to celebrate anything I did. But rather, to emphasize that I did nothing when I first overheard her comments.
And how many others also did nothing.
Wanting to highlight what we are all so capable of doing, and not doing for others.
Where we can all listen to someone, but not fully attend to what they are saying.
Where we hear them, but choose to ignore their plight.
Being unwilling to do even some small act of kindness that might alleviate or lighten their circumstances.
Such a lack of engagement speaks loudly. It communicates that the other is invisible, and unworthy of even a minimal effort.
We can become so busy focusing on the next thing or task, hurrying through one thing, so we can move onto another. And when we live in such busy frenetic ways, we begin to walk with our heads down, our hearts hardening, and we fail to notice others.
Totally missing these providential moments of connection.
Walking right past the invitation to enter into a divine intersection. Where through a simple act of love, we can become God’s loving hands and heart.
Affirming that the other is seen. And heard.
And of such exceptional worth, we care enough to respond.
For an index of all my posts in the series, please click here.
Photo Credits: Ramiro Mendes, Alexandru Tugui, Jez Timms from Unsplash