I ran to the grocery store over lunch. I have an overdue birthday gift for a great-niece to mail, and with her father’s birthday following just after, I wanted to grab him a card. I cruised through the aisles, found what I was looking for, and headed to the checkout. 

I’m a self-check girl, but I had a gift card, and I’m a little superstitious about their activation, having had problems in the past. So I got into the express lane. 

“We appreciate your patronage,” the clerk greeted me.

I didn’t expect it, so I missed a beat and said, “Well, I appreciate your store.” 

“Who’s the card for?” he asked, as he scanned it. I explained. “Ah-ha, kind of a combo package,” he observed and I agreed.

I looked more closely at him. Older, a little stooped, with white stubble. His name tag said that he had been a member of the grocery store’s team since 1979.

“I’m Jim,” he said. “Nice to meet you, Jim,” I said. Our transaction was basically complete at that point and we wished each other a good day.

There was something that broke my heart about the whole thing. I generally avoid these small connections throughout my day, paying at the pump or the self-check so as not to slow myself down. But whether it was the upside-down conversation we had or his persistent, pleasant attempts to connect, this one stuck out. I wonder, at the pace that I live, how many times I overlook someone who just wants to be seen and acknowledged. I wonder how often I do it to the people I love. 

And on that cheery note…


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