George didn’t often accompany his wife when she went grocery shopping. Usually he was quite happy to drop Martha off at the supermarket and go on to other shopping, then come back for her and the groceries. But she’d sprained her wrist a few days ago; now here he was, plodding along behind her, pushing the cart and loading the heavier things for her.
Finally they were done and George wheeled toward the checkouts. He glanced along the row of cashiers and automatically aimed the cart toward the one with the shortest lineup.
Martha put her hand on his arm. “This way, George.” She pointed to the till with the longest queue.
He was puzzled but followed without comment.
“I’ll explain later,” she said once they were in line. “Or maybe you’ll catch on yourself.”
Slowly their line moved toward the till; finally they were waiting behind someone loading her groceries onto the conveyer. By now George had observed that the cashier had a pleasant smile and a few cheerful words for each customers as they paid. Nice to see that, he thought to himself, forgetting for a moment how eager he was to be off home.
When Martha came up to the till the cashier greeted her like an old friend. Martha mentioned her sprained wrist and the cashier offered her sympathies, then inquired how the grandchildren were coming along with their skating lessons. George was surprised; he’d completely forgotten they were learning to skate.
When Martha introduced him as her “better half” the cashier chuckled and gave him a friendly “Nice to meet you.” George returned her smile.
Later, as they were loading the groceries into the car Martha asked, “Could you figure out why I chose that line?”
“Well, I noticed the cashier was cheerful.”
“Yes, she brightens my day whenever I go. So many cashiers give me the feeling I’m just one among the masses of humanity moving past their till, but this lady takes time to express interest in me as a person. That means so much. Sometimes an older soul ahead of me chats a bit longer as she checks out, but I try to be patient. I’m sure she’s appreciating that human touch and I don’t want to rush her.”
“Maybe we all need to offer a little more of that human touch,” said George, remembering with a twinge of guilt some times lately when – impatient to be elsewhere – he’d barely grunted at a weary cashier.
Martha nodded. “They say ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees.’ Perhaps we often can’t see the trees for the forest, either? I think that lady has cultivated the art of seeing individuals and not just hordes of people. That’s why I like to go through her checkout.”
“Well, this was a profitable day at the supermarket. I’m glad I came along.”