Last Monday, during a two-hour break between my classes, I decided to drive over to Clark’s, the local health food store and grab some healthy snacks. I really enjoy shopping through all of the bulk bins that are at the front of the store. I grabbed several plastic bags and began to fill them up with sesame sticks, blueberry granola, and unsalted peanuts. Once I had chosen my snacks, I walked over to the registers and got in line. A few minutes later, the clerk was scanning my purchases while I searched in my wallet for my credit card. Suddenly, I heard a voice loudly saying to me, “What are you going to do with all of these peanuts?”
I glanced over to see my bag of peanuts suddenly dangling in front of my face as I heard a deep rumble of laughter. At first, I was a little aggravated. I don’t like to have my grocery selections questioned or my food touched. I don’t always like strangers shouting at me, mocking me, or teasing me. I never know how to respond. So, yes, I could feel myself becoming irritated. I looked up from my wallet and suddenly found myself looking into the face of a young man with the most dazzling, happy smile I had ever seen. The smile was so kind and endearing, I couldn’t be upset. I stared at the man whose eyes behind his thick glasses were slightly crossed and the look of Down’s syndrome graced his face. The young man was wearing a green Clark’s apron. The nametag on the apron had the word “Volunteer” stamped on it. How cool!
Suddenly, I heard the female clerk’s voice laugh as she said, “Well, she is going to eat them. What did you think she was going to do with all those peanuts?”
I started to laugh now. “Do you like peanuts?” I asked the volunteer.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I like them.”
“I do, too,” I answered. “I think they’re really good.”
“Yeah,” the volunteer answered, “that’s why you have a whole bag of them.”
“Yeah,” I laughed at his observation, “you’re right. I guess that’s why.”
The clerk interrupted us then as she ran my credit card and asked if I wanted paper or plastic. I told her I didn’t need a bag at all. The clerk turned to the volunteer then and smiled, “She doesn’t want a bag, Mike. Just hand her the items.”
But the volunteer still seemed fascinated with the bag of peanuts. Suddenly, his face lit up. “Hey,” he said then, “I know what you can do with all these peanuts!”
“What?” I asked him as the clerk listened in on his suggestion. “What should I do with all these peanuts?”
“You can make peanut butter!” he said triumphantly.
The clerk and I laughed then, “Yes,” I told him. “That’s a great idea! I just might do that!”
The volunteer handed me the plastic bags of peanuts and sesame sticks as I told him thank you and have a good day. He smiled at me and wished me the same. I walked out of the store and started walking over to my vehicle.
As I reached my car, I suddenly noticed a middle aged, blond woman in a silky short black dress and high black heels walking across the parking lot. The woman was taking very small tentative steps as she pulled at her dress. She continued to fret with the skirt of her dress, awkwardly pulling it down her legs to her knees as her fingers slipped and tangled in the loose flowing material. I watched her for just a moment. The woman walked a little sideways on the balls of her feet as if she was afraid she was going to fall.
As the woman approached me, I smiled and called out to her. “You look really nice.”
The woman stopped and stared at me for a moment. Then she smiled as she blinked several times as if to block tears. “Oh, thank you so much,” she said. “You look so nice, too.”
I smiled and blushed a little at her words. I was wearing what I normally wear when I teach my classes. I want to be comfortable so I wear a long skirt, simple shirt, and flat sandals. And though I do think the woman was only trying to be nice to me, there was a hint of sincerity and kindness in her words that I don’t usually hear from a lot of people.
I smiled at the woman and said “Thank you.” I was grateful for her kindness. The woman stopped walking for a moment as I stood by my car door. She hesitated as if she was going to say something more to me. I waited, but she just stood awkwardly still, looking at me with a shy smile as her fingers tugged at the hem of her skirt. We smiled at each other for a moment more before I said, “You have a great day!”
“Oh, thank you so much,” the woman said as she began to take awkward steps again. “You, too. You have a great day.”
I got into my car then and watched as the woman shuffled her way across the parking lot and then stepped inside of the sliding front doors of Clark’s. As I watched the doors close behind her, I smiled as I thought of all the unusual, amazing people God had brought into my life that day. I had the greatest feeling that the people I had encountered were in my life for a reason. Just these brief encounters made me feel incredibly blessed. I hoped that I had been an inspiration and blessing to other people as well, too.
I drove back to the campus feeling incredibly connected to the Oneness that bonds all souls. I thanked God for allowing me, in some brief way, to be a link in His amazing human chain. I don’t want to be the weak link in this chain! I want to love and be kind to people. It is always return to me. It comes back around. For I love myself the most when I love other people.