Saturday afternoon I decided to take my chances with what I knew would be a very challenging endeavor. I willingly chose that time to go to the grocery store.
Oh, I knew it would mean out-of-stock items, grumpy shoppers and long lines. But I was so giddy with the thought of my new seven-day meal plan and the simplified shopping that it promised that I floated into Meijer on the cloud of an organized grocery list.
I made it no farther than the lettuce when I saw her.
She stood out because her grey hair dangled almost to her thighs. She seemed to be wandering aimlessly from the Romain to the iceberg and back to the green leaf. Then she turned and looked me in the eyes.
“They hate me here, so I am going to shop somewhere else,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“Oh, no!” I replied, trying to look sympathetic, while acting like I suddenly remembered that I needed some mangoes on the other side of produce.
I couldn’t imagine what had happened that had made her feel so hated by the workers at Meijer. I really didn’t want to know. But I did know one thing for sure. I better make up my mind that very second that no matter what happened during the next hour and 20 minutes, I would not let anyone dampen my happy shopping mood.
Oh, there were so many temptations. Countless sale signs sitting beneath empty shelves. An elderly man who was so excited about the price of mixes that he was blocking my way for what seemed like 10 minutes. A self-check lane that wouldn’t dispense change to the man in front of me.
And her. The long-haired woman kept showing up in my path. Apparently, she had not actually gone somewhere else to shop.
She really didn’t seem deranged. I felt bad that I hadn’t taken the time to listen to her tale of being hurt by the workers at Meijer, but I simply knew the truth. They don’t hate her.
She had made the choice to feel that way. She could have chosen a different reaction to whatever grumpy worker she had encountered. I’m sure that none of them cared enough to hate her.
Each time I saw her, I tried to give her a big smile. I don’t know that it helped. But I was pretty happy for myself. I made it out of there in a good mood.
That woman actually made my shopping experience better. She challenged me to stay determined. No matter who I encountered or what was going on, I was going to smile and say something nice, rather than add to the grumpiness around me.
It was kind of fun. Fun enough to repeat next Saturday? Probably not. But a good reminder that each day my mood and my outlook depends on none other than me.