By April Johnson
Well, today, it happened again. I held my tongue. I did not speak when I should have. I remained silent, smiled, and walked away. I remember as a child the countless times I was spoken to before social gatherings. My mom would remind me to temper my tongue because I am forever speaking my mind. Throughout my 35 years here on earth, I have worked tirelessly at refining this skill. Often times I leave verbal exchanges and reflect back … Did I ask the person I was speaking to questions about themselves? Was I a conversation hog? I am the talker, and sometimes it is good to be the listener.
This morning at the grocery store I did not speak in a time when my voice could have been important or significant. This morning I was at the checkout of my local store. As I pushed my cart through with my 4-year-old in tow I walked up to a very friendly cashier and an even friendlier bagger. I know these terms are not politically correct, but you know exactly who I’m talking about now, don’t you?! Anyway, the bagger named “George” was functioning with some delays; they were evident immediately. This is probably the hundredth time I have seen him, but today was different. He was bagging my groceries. As he struggled to complete this seemingly simple task the cashier was indeed patient with him but she was noticeably frustrated. During the process of bagging my stuff I helped him several times, and at one point he stopped, walked away and returned with a sticker for my 4-year-old. I didn’t mind grabbing a few of my groceries myself, because, well, why would I mind that? After I completed my debit card transaction the cashier mouthed, “THANK YOU!” to me. This felt to me like she was implying that I had been really “put out” to have this exchange with the bagger. For me this exchange was just the opposite. I want to thank George for working there. I want to thank the grocery store for employing him. I want to thank George for existing. I want to thank God for creating George. The world without George is a worse place.
This was my chance to speak up. We all need to be patient and kind with one another. I should have kindly responded to the cashier, “There is nothing to thank me for.” I wanted to tell her, I have a daughter who may not be able to have the simple job of bagging groceries someday, and that’s fine, because she is still a very special part of this world. We all are. Maybe if we viewed all humanity as significant and valuable we would not be tearing one another down all the time. I confess I have a sick tendency to read the comments on online news articles. DO NOT TRY THIS. This is a most depressing activity. People hurl awful insults at strangers, and it’s very ugly. For this to stop we need each person to recognize that George, that cashier, and frankly every person in that grocery store deserve kindness and patience. Let’s start there. No thank you necessary.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
April Johnson is a full-time stay at home (although, she is never really home) mom. April met her husband of 15 years at a Christian summer camp when they were teenagers. Together they have three children. April has recently been very busy juggling typical household duties along with some other roles, including: coaching soccer, being a room parent at school, babysitting an infant, and driving the kids around like a taxi driver. In 2003, April received her BA in media studies at the University of Southern Maine. She loves writing, and would love to publish a novel someday. For fun she likes to run, strength train, raise backyard chickens, and play the guitar.