Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Being Cheerful

I went to the grocery store today to get a few things, and found what I wanted without much trouble, including a bag of apples that was reduced in price.

I chose a regular check-out with an honest-to-goodness-real-living-and-breathing cashier instead of the self check-out, because that reduced bag of apples would have meant that I'd have had to call for a cashier anyhow. And the real cashier had a grocery bagger.

So I got into line, and the cashier rung up the person ahead of me, and the bagger bagged her goods, and I got to the front of the line with my groceries, and...

The phone rang. And the cashier talked for two or three minutes with the person on the other end. And the bagger ran off to help another customer. And I was left standing, unable to do anything at all, while the cashier talked to whoever was on the other end of the phone.

Most of us, in that position, would be a tad impatient. Our self-talk would go something like, "Why did they put this lady on cash, if they're only going to take up her time talking to her on the phone." (Actual transcriptions from my thoughts, really. It was apparent she was talking to another employee about how to do something.) Or, "Where did that bagger go? How's he going to help me if he's off helping someone else?" (Another actual transcription...) Or, "Why did I choose this line-up? I always make the wrong decision when it comes to choosing line-ups!" (Yet again...)

And then I overheard another employee wish my bagger (who had returned)a happy birthday, and he cheerfully responded that he'd had his birthday off last year, and didn't need it off again. And the cashier got off the phone and apologized saying that there had been a problem with her log-in number. And I realized that I had a choice.

I could say, "Poor me! They wasted my time with their trivial matters!" and be grumpy.

Or I could choose to be cheerful, and let it slide. I chose the latter.

When the bagger had difficulty getting my groceries into the bag, it became apparent to me that while eternally cheerful, he clearly had a disability. I helped him bag, and showed him how he might manage to fit all of the heavy stuff into a bag like mine without crushing the light stuff.

And my groceries bagged, I wished him a cheerful happy birthday, and moved on. As I was leaving, an announcement came on the PA system wishing this particular employee a happy birthday. He'd gone ahead of me, because he was taking his break, and he turned around and looked right at me with a big smile on his face, and raised his hands in the air. I smiled and cheered back.

My cheerfulness made his day, I'm sure. But more importantly, it made mine.

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