Against my better judgment, I went grocery shopping Friday after work. I love people, but I do not enjoy crowds. At all. Especially when I’m in a hurry. But in the interest of eating, I did it anyway.
When I pulled into the parking lot, it was packed. People were pulling in and out, traffic was stop and go, and there were no vacant spots nearer than the back of the parking lot. That was fine. I don’t mind walking. What I did mind was that there were four shopping carts clustered together and taking up at least three spaces plus jeopardizing the safety of the unsuspecting neighboring vehicles.
I carefully pulled in a space and swept into action. I muscled the carts two at a time into the (nearby) cart corral and went on about my business into the store, secure in the knowledge that my vehicle wasn’t in imminent danger.
Imagine my disgust when, about half an hour later, I got back to my car and another abandoned cart was right next to it. Thankfully it hadn’t hit it, but I was not pleased. I unloaded my groceries and trooped my cart plus the stray to the corral.
On the way, a gentleman passed by with his cart. He chuckled and said, “That’s what you were doing when I went in the store.”
I laughed too. I can see the humor in it – me with my Olive Oyl muscles wrangling carts all over the place. Then it hit me. I didn’t know this man, but he had noticed something as simple as this. I may never see him again, but I did leave an impression. I’m not sure entirely what it was, hopefully good, but it did make him think.
If someone I never met paid enough attention to my OCD in action and said something, how much more are the people we know paying attention to us? Are we putting our carts up? Holding open the door? Respecting the right of way? Letting pedestrians cross? Being short with the cashier when she has trouble getting an item to scan?
All these mundane situations say something about our overall attitude towards people. Are we in a dead run with no time to stop for all those pesky people in our way? Consider Titus 3:2, “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” In the last week, can that be said of us? That we didn’t say bad things of others, that we tried to defuse difficult situations, and that we were kind?
I was trying to decide what to write about today, and this song came on the car radio twice. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Here it is, anyway. If you haven’t heard it it’s worth a listen: Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let’s make sure that we don’t have the mindset that we have all we can do just to take care of ourselves and everyone else is just going to have to fend for themselves. If we’re too busy to take a minute to treat the people around us as valued creations, then we are too busy. So let’s put up our carts, hold open doors, and make sure that we aren’t looking down on the people around us as nuisances in our way. We will make the world a little bit better for ourselves and for everyone else.
How about you? How can we show the people around us they matter?
May the Lord bless and keep you,