Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A checkout counter

January 25, 2012

Agatha Christie had her English Village; I have my local grocery store. It is said that Agatha Christie rarely ventured out of her village. She had, however, an understanding of human nature, as revealed in her mystery stories that paralleled someone having traveled the world.

Her village, like the local grocery store, is a microcosm of the world. If you take the time to get to know that piece of the world, become a part of it and let it become a part of you, you come to know human nature in a very real way.

I think about that when I do my weekly grocery shopping or when I pick up my monthly medications from the pharmacy. How like a village this store is. I can walk the streets of my town and tell you the history of most of the homes in the old part of town. I can peruse the aisles of the grocery store and shop blindfolded. Well, I could before someone took it upon him or herself to rearrange the shelves and move things around.

It is, however, more than the familiarity of the environs that makes this particular grocery store vital to this community. It was there, during my treatments for breast cancer, that I shopped and got to know the checkers, the deli people, the pharmacists and the pharmacy techs, and came to know a hodgepodge of people with their own aches, pains, dreams and ambitions. I also was the recipient of care, concern and encouragement.

I came to know who was trying to quit smoking, who was going off to college, whose car radiator sprung a leak, whose mother had breast cancer, whose girlfriend liked what movies, who shopped on Friday afternoons and whose in-laws were coming to town for the holidays.

I heard a woman say recently she was standing in line at the checkout counter and a man behind her, whom she did not know, paid for her holiday shopping. For the first time in her life, she experienced the generosity of a stranger. That it happened in the Price Chopper grocery store here at home didn’t surprise me.

There are kind, generous, compassionate people in the world, just as there are rascals and scallywags. I found, however, more of the goodness in people in the aisles of the store and behind the counters than I did otherwise.

It was the fox in the children’s book, “The Little Prince,” who said this to the Prince: “What is important is invisible to the eye; it is with the heart that one see’s rightly … it is the time we take for our rose (friends) that is important.”

Agatha Christie found it in her village. I find it at the grocery store — the deli, the pharmacy, the checkout counter, in a random aisle — my village.


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