I was in line at a busy Walmart the other day with a cart full of grocery items. The cashier, a lady who appeared to be in her late sixties, didn’t smile or say hello as I unloaded my cart. I was buying so many items that my purchases filled the counter from end to end. As she looked at my order, the cashier turned off her light and snapped to the woman in line behind me “I’m closed!”
As I turned to look at the woman behind me, I noticed that, not only had she pushed a cart full of items to the counter, but she was also pushing a large wheelchair holding a developmentally disabled teen-aged girl who was curled up in a fetal position.
When the cashier turned off her light, the woman softly said “Oh no. I have to go find another aisle.” She didn’t make a fuss or tell the cashier that she was in line before her light went off, she simply dropped her head and proceeded to try to turn around her heavy cart and the wheelchair. Having just searched for an aisle myself, I knew that all of the aisles were full of customers and this woman would now have to push her passenger to another full aisle, then return to ours to get her cart of groceries and push that, too. And my heart sank.
I wanted to ask the cashier if the woman could go ahead of me, but she was halfway through my order and my heart sank further still. As I stood there throwing darts at the cashier with my eyes, I wondered how such a sweet looking lady could be so cruel. I contemplated finding a manager to complain and I had some very not-so-nice thoughts about her in my head.
I continued to look back and forth between the lady who was struggling to move both the cart and the wheelchair and the cashier who looked like she could care less, and I began to pray for this world to become a kinder place. And the more I prayed, the less animosity I felt toward that cashier. I began to think that perhaps she cares for a sick person herself, at home… someone she was anxious to get home to. Or perhaps she was sick herself and just desperately needed to leave. I began to stop judging her and started to pray for whatever her situation was.
As she murmured my total and I began to pay, the cashier reached over and turned her light back on! I stared at her in disbelief, wondering if I was on an episode of What Would You Do. Surely, if she took another customer after turning away that woman, I was going to start looking for a manager.
Then the cashier leaned over her counter and yelled to the customer she had turned away, “Come on back. I’ll take you.” The customer had so much to push, between the cart and the wheelchair, that she hadn’t gotten far and turned around.
Though I don’t know what made that cashier change her mind, I was able to leave Walmart with a lifted spirit and a renewed hope in the kindness of our world. And I believe that if we all pray for the same, that more lights will turn on in dark places.