What Not to Say While Holiday Shopping

I’m standing in line at the store, and the salespeople rush around, trying to relieve the long lines waiting at each check-out station.  Every intercom announcement sounds off the code red.  People are waiting!  Lots of people are waiting!  Hurry, hurry!

A traffic jam of shopping carts blocks everyone’s path as people maneuver for the best possible position.  When a new line opens up, ladies fight for that precious spot at a free register.  Somebody is going to get hurt. 

What’s happened to our manners?

I’m yawning in my line and feeling awfully cozy in my winter coat.  I’m still sick and in no mood to rush around. 

The shopper in front of me decides to sign up for some special program. The cashier turns to me, nearly in tears, and says, “I’m just so sorry.  You can find another cashier if you need to.  This is going to take time, and I’m just so sorry.” 

“That’s OK,” I say.  “I really have nowhere to be.  I’m not in any hurry.”  I shove my hands in my pockets, look up to the ceiling, and wonder what I might blog about today.

Silence.  People glance over at me like I’ve just said a bad word out loud.  Someone frowns at me.  How dare I hinder this holiday rush? How dare I support the one slow-poke in everyone’s way?  

“Take all the time you need,” I insist to the slow-poke. Those six words wrap the two of us in a warm holiday embrace.  The cashier smiles and looks as if she might actually hug me. 

Living with flair means–especially in December–we let people take all the time they need.  What’s so important in my shopping cart anyway?  What makes my day more important than another person’s?

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Are you the rushing one or the slow-poke?  I’m both!

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What You Lose in the Rush

My oldest daughter has a horrible ear infection that’s so bad that the doctor actually looks inside her ear and says, “This is just a mess.”  We’ve already had two ear tube surgeries and countless rounds of antibiotics for infections.

What’s so hard is the sheer pain of it.  The doctor asks where my daughter was on the 1-10 pain scale, and she bravely reports, “An 8, except sometimes (meaning when she’s asleep).” 

We are driving away from the pharmacy with two different medications for her (and also the ear drops for after swimming now that the tubes fell out). She can’t swim all week, and she’ll have ear drops and oral antibiotics.  It’s all a waiting game for the ear to heal.  She’s counting the days until the pain recedes and until she can swim again. 

Out of the blue, she calls out from the back seat:  “Mom, did you know if the earth went any faster around the sun, we wouldn’t get to have so many days?  The year would be shorter.  That wouldn’t be good.  We’d miss stuff.”

She’s applying astrophysics to the time it will take for her ear to heal.  In her mind, she concludes that speeding things up actually results in loss for her.  Just this morning, I read about time and patience.  I have trouble waiting, even for a day, for things I hope for.

Do I really want to rush the cosmic process?  Whatever the speed of change in my life, it seems wise to fully live out the day and not wish so much for it all to be over–even if it’s uncomfortable.  Wishing for tomorrow means I have one less day. 

Even in pain, she doesn’t want to wish away the day because of what she’ll lose.   It’s ear infection flair!

(photo courtesy of Bruce Sterling )

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