Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Cover Doesn't Begin to Explain the Book

This is a transaction thought from a conversation from my third grader:
She was telling me how you can't judge a friend by looks(ugly or good-looking) or dress(shabby or smart). And that is a good lesson. And I thought.

Earlier, she and I had gone to Lowe's for some construction stakes for posters I want to put up for my church chocolate festival. I was told to go to aisle 13, where I met a salesman who told me I wanted aisle 16, and walked along with us to find them. They were fairly bulky, not unmanageable, but he insisted on getting a cart and walking with us to checkout. Then he offered to carry them out. I told him no, I could manage. We left. Just as we reached the trunk of my car, a well-built, 20-something man appeared and asked, "Ma'am, do you need help?"

I laughed. I told him no I didn't, but since he was there I relished the assistance. I opened the trunk, he deposited the stakes, then told me he would crate the cart since "it's on my way anyway." And he did.

When we got in the car, I told my granddaughter, "You have just witnessed three blessings. One was the man helping us in the store. The second was the man who showed up to help me at the trunk. And the third is I recognized the first two as blessings."

Earlier in the day I had been fuming to a friend because of my bad knees and arthritis, I limp. And because I lost weight after age 60, I have wrinkles. And my hair is greying. And I feel sometimes as if people spring to help because of the old lady with the limp, and I'm stronger than that and I hate it. All of which is true when I am feeling negative. BUT. All of this happened later, and wasn't it nice? Human beings are still kind to one another. Of course I smiled.

I have been thinking when to bring another interchange up. It was in the shop where my damaged car was being repaired. A woman came in, carrying a couple of Walmart bags. She was picking up her own repaired car. She was wearing a navy blue shirt and khaki pants. As she and I waited, I asked her,"Do Walmart employees get a discount?"
I was genuinely curious. I have had nothing but intelligent, good service there. And I know the pay is minimal, so I wondered if there were perks.

She huffed,"I do not work at Walmart", and sailed out the door. Almost immediately, she came back in. She said, "Why do you think I work at Walmart? I am a professor at _______." She seemed flustered.

I answered truthfully, "You are wearing a navy shirt and khaki pants, the uniform for Walmart employees, and you are carrying Walmart bags."

She blurted,"I will never wear this outfit again." And she left.

I thought at the time she was oversensitive.

Today, I examined that in view of my 8-year-old getting lessons in not picking a book by its cover, so to speak, and in my own almost terminal prickliness when good people try to help an independent, aging, limping woman. Today I had the sense not to be prickly. I hope later, the prickly professor laughed.

But all of us, my 8-year-old, myself, the middle-aged professor, are always striving to read and be read, as a book without our cover.

We aren't. Most of the time. What I personally have to learn is to bless the goodness of people when they mean well, and only whop them in the chops when they try to escort me across a street I didn't intend to cross.


clairz said...

Very interesting and thought-provoking post, as always, Charlotte. My response may be only marginally connected, but it's what you made me think of.

I spent some time shopping at Walmart yesterday. I really don't like going there that much, so I had quite a list of things to get since I had put off the trip for so long.

As I shopped, I wondered how the employees there felt about their jobs. They all seemed so grim, and the day felt like it was getting darker and darker.

Then, something happened to change my outlook. There was a crowded aisle with some boxes in the middle and as I went through with my cart, a young man was coming the opposite way. We made eye contact, and he gave me a nod and the very sweetest smile!

After that, and for the rest of my time in the store, I noticed the smiles only, and left with a pretty darned good feeling. That was all it took--one smile to change my whole experience.

charlotte g said...

In art, you have the classic black and white picture that is either a white vase against a black background or two black profiles against a white background. And you experienced the same world with a perception shift. I think it is worth doing.