The weather people had issued dire warnings about this morning. Heavy rain by morning, they said. So of course, I headed out to Walmart at 7 a.m. to buy some groceries. Gene is in town, and Matt and Alisha are coming down on Saturday. Shouldn’t be too crowded early on a Saturday morning, right? Under nasty-looking skies, I wondered if I should have parked closer to the door instead of my usual spot way out on the end of the lane. But the parking lot was packed with others who obviously had the same idea as me. I didn’t really have much choice.
Although crowded, the atmosphere inside the store was mellow. People were smiling and being of good cheer, as you’d hope. I like that. Why can’t we be in this mood all year long? Also, there was a tangible sense of relief. “It’s almost over.”
Oddly, when I got to the front of the store (I shop from back to front, which is the wrong way because I don’t use a list and if I’ve forgotten anything I have to back-track) I saw a long row of empty cashiers! I walked right up to one just as the guy ahead of me was pulling away. Suh-weeet! As I left, I smiled and wished her a merry Christmas; she wished me a merry Christmas back. If anyone thinks that companies are discouraging their employees from saying “Merry Christmas,” I have not seen evidence of it happening in practice. Everywhere I go, people have been saying, “Merry Christmas!” like they mean it.
So my little Walmart experience went well this morning.
It’s been a crazy holiday season though. I see traffic accidents all over the place. Some have been pretty serious, not just your typical rear-enders. People seem to be in such a rush, so impatient, so distracted. It’s almost as if, for some people, the holiday season is just getting in the way of their lives. You see evidence of this all over. People are curt with each other, brusque even. It’s a form of expediency, I guess…our subconscious attempt to Keep the line moving. Don’t get in the way. Let’s just get out of here.
My own philosophy in times like these is to just go slow. Go extra-slow, in fact. Lines are going to be long, yes? Parking lots are going to be crowded, yes? The mall will be jammed, yes? Traffic is going to be bad, of course. So I take it down a notch. I understand that people are frazzled and stressed. So, I…me…the only one I can control…I make an effort to chill out. You wanna cut in front of me in line? Okay, go ahead if you’re in that much of a hurry. I’m not. When traffic gets backed up, I don’t get angry. I expect traffic to be bad.
Generally, I always take the time to greet people I’m about to interact with, but especially so this time of year. Look ‘em in the eye, smile and say good morning (or whatever). Make contact. Ask about their lives – not deep philosophical questions requiring long, involved answers – but just a sincere, “How’s it going in your life on this day?” kind of thing. When I leave, I don’t just walk off. I make sure I tell them good-bye, and lately, wish them a merry Christmas. I want people to see that…well…I don’t know what I want people to do. I just want to put a little human-ness back into our existence here.
People seem to like this, they respond well to it. They smile at me, sometimes when they certainly were not smiling before. That right there is worth getting out of bed for. The sad thing is that I see this not happening a lot. I see so many instances where an encounter between two people might as well have been between two machines, with neither party acknowledging the other’s humanity. It should not be this way – at any time of the year.
Slow down, take it easy. Deep breath. Life's too short. No reason to get all stressed-out. Let’s forget about everything else and focus on why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.
Peace On Earth
Good Will Toward Men
And to you, whoever and wherever you are, I thank you for visiting with me on this blog. I wish for you nothing but the best...good fortune and joy every day of your life. You deserve it.