Today’s guest post is from Devan, an internet friend of mine. We haven’t yet met in person, but I hope we can someday soon. Devan kindly offered the following inspirational piece to me for use during this busy time.
I had been at work since before 9 AM and it was now after 8 PM. All I really wanted to do was settle in for the night. Unfortunately, toilet paper is an unforgiving need when you’ve run out. As I made my way through the drug store near my home, I could hear an unusually loud woman talking about the price of Oreos. Then, as she must have passed the liquor aisle, she spoke about a particularly raucous night involving a cheap bottle of vodka and a hat with a feather in it. No matter where I went in the store, her voice carried. I heard every word as if she were talking to me directly. I shook my head and rolled my eyes, marveling at the inappropriate public display.
With large 9 roll pack of toilet paper under my arm and medicine for a developing headache firmly in hand, I headed to the front of the store. As I rounded the corner to the registers, I saw the loud woman and her quieter female companion had beat me there.
They were a colorful pair. The loud one was very tall and curvy. Her leggings were black and white striped and she wore a short shirt that showed her bare belly. Her hair was shoulder-length, wild, messy and frizzy. She wore a huge welcoming smile to accompany her gregarious nature and carried herself with enviable confidence. In one arm she carried a large box of tacos from the restaurant next door (it was $1 taco Tuesday), a backpack in the other.
The quiet one was shorter, had a robust figure, and wore a generously sized t-shirt and yoga pants. She had long straight unkempt hair and was very pregnant. She too kept a smile on her face. It was a bashful awkward smile, but it radiated warmth. Her eyes looked down most of the time, glancing up shyly on occasion. She was rolling a small suitcase on wheels behind her.
The cashier was a cute young girl named Ashlee with unnaturally red hair, several tattoos, and facial piercings. Because of her alternative look she often got strange glances from customers. Yet she never seemed to get frustrated with anything or anyone.
As I stood in line, I found myself growing frustrated with the 2 women in line in front of me this particular evening. They had no sense of urgency at all and had questions about everything. Ashlee, as usual, began friendly small talk while checking out their purchases. During this small talk, it was determined that the women had gotten a ride there, but didn’t have a ride home. They laughed that they were short on bus fare as well, after getting food and milk, so they would be walking home.
To my complete dismay, Ashlee enthusiastically encouraged the women to allow her to pack their backpack and suitcase in the most optimal way, to prevent having to carry anything too heavy. As I stood there aggravated and just wanting to leave, Ashlee proceeded to work their items into their bags. She carefully placed the heaviest items in the rolling suitcase and the lighter ones in the accompanying backpack. It took much longer than if she had simply put everything in the store bags and left them to deal with it, but the women glowed with gratitude. Ashlee then asked for the awkward box of tacos they were carrying and slipped them into a bag for easier transport. The women left with big smiles on their faces and, I assume, began their journey home.
As the women left the store and I approached the register, Ashlee greeted me with that same kind smile and an enthusiastic “Hey! How are you today?” My grimace quickly melted into a broad smile. I forgot all about my aggravation as we chatted and she swiftly moved me through the checkout. As I was leaving the store, as I often do, I felt appreciated and valued. Not just as a customer, but as a human being. The same feeling the two women in front of me were likely feeling as they left the store.
When I got to my car and opened the door to get in, I glanced back over my shoulder to the store exit. The elderly lady who had been behind me in line was walking out of the store with a beaming smile, her small bag in hand. I knew the smile that brightened her face was because of Ashlee. In less than 10 minutes, Ashlee had touched the lives of 4 women with her positive, kind, and compassionate nature. She had definitely changed the mood of everyone’s evening. More importantly, she made me realize how frustrated and judgmental I had been toward the 2 women in front of me. I laughed at myself the entire drive home.
I often think of the two women in front of me that day. I wish I had been more patient and kind, perhaps offering them bus fare or a ride home. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for Ashlee. I am grateful for this experience, reminding me the importance of basic kindness and the impact it can have on each person we encounter. Now, when I interact with anyone in line at the store, waiting at the DMV, in the Dr.’s office, etc., I try to remember that no matter how crazy my day may have been, someone is having a struggle that is far worse. A kind smile or gesture just might lift their day a little, just like Ashlee did for me.
Devan is a 40-something single female blogging online as Xsyntrik Nomad (xsyntriknomad.com). Committed to the dream of a simple but adventurous life, she is rarely found in one place for long. Her preferred ‘home’ is a converted van in which she can freely explore every corner of the country, with her two feline companions in tow. Devan is a positive living enthusiast who strives above all else to live a happy, kind, and inspired life. She hopes to motivate others through her writing and by sharing her journey.