My sister Emily often says, “You want everyone to be happy.” She isn’t wrong. That’s my nature; but I’m realistic. It’s impossible for everyone to be happy. My inner idealist aspires for everyone to feel heard and seen, even when opinions differ. Despite good intentions, that doesn’t always seem to happen. So what to do?
Talk less. Notice more. A lesson I’m reminded of often.
Today I was feeling unresolved about a situation in which not everyone is going to be happy. So, I went to Pete’s, which I always enjoy. Seeing neighbors. Hunting for orange sticker bargains. Finding things before my husband Matt mentions the need. Today I scored an onion shaped like a mango. My life is built on small victories.
I parked next to a gorgeous, well-maintained 2001 Cadillac Eldorado coupe. Looking at it made me happy. It was like seeing my dad again. The driver and I walked in together. I found my one-of-a-kind Vedalia onion, and a newspaper with a clever front-page headline about the very subject on my mind. List fulfilled; it was time to pay.
Mr. Cadillac was ahead of me in line. We nodded, waiting for someone to finish unloading a brimming cart. The customer seemed a little anxious, but very polite. We got a shy apology while the cart was emptied onto the broken conveyer belt.
I watched Dawn the cashier, handle her job like the pro she is. Friendly, but undemanding. Knowing exactly where the barcodes were. Lifting the items being scanned only as much as needed. Using her time and therefore ours, well. Total, $129 and change.
The customer began counting out dollars in small denominations, knowing it would take longer and apologizing again. Mr. Cadillac, whose first name I’ve decided is Eldorado, got a thoughtful look on his face and said, “Don’t worry about it,” adding quietly without drawing attention to the situation, “I’d like to pay for your groceries.”
The customer couldn’t believe his offer, so Eldorado repeated himself. A stammered, sincere, thank you followed. Eldo added his sandwich and Arizona iced tea to the bill before paying. We all wished each other a good day, and they left.
Neither of my partners in line realized they had a nosey newspaper columnist behind them, taking notes. Someone thankful to live in such a community. Someone happy to be reminded to talk less and notice more. Someone less burdened. It was the best part of my day.
Kindness and generosity are radiant, sending out light and shining brightly. Providing a beacon on a bad day. A reminder of who we all have the potential to be. I paid for my own items and left excited to go home to have lunch with my husband. Sure, that the conversation would be in part, not newspaper headlines, but instead Cadillacs and an onion shaped like a mango.