About once a week I go to Wal-Mart to do my grocery shopping.
The first thing that ticks me off about Wal-Mart is the giant fan blowing air out of the ceiling just as you go in the door. Whether it’s summer or winter, it blows you bald-headed the minute you step inside.
Last week I encountered this gripey old curmudgeon in the produce section.
Made Andy Rooney seem like Mr. Rogers.
Dressed in a leftover polyester men’s jumpsuit from the ‘70s, this guy was like a trailer park version of Ebenezer Scrooge.
He left his cart right in front of the Fuji apples I wanted, so I had to park my cart in front of the plums. When he waddled back from getting a plastic bag from the dispenser, he discovered my cart was in his way.
Before I could move it, he took hold of the push bar and slung my cart into another bin, knocking some of the lemons that were in it onto the floor.
Stunned, it was all I could do to keep from taking his cart and slinging it out in the parking lot.
He proceeded to tell me how I needed to keep my cart from blocking the produce.
Never mind that his cart full of Geritol and Depends was blocking the Fuji apples I was after.
All this time, he’s never made eye contact with me.
Like I’m not even there.
He has no idea there’s a frightened little girl inside of me who’s been through this scene one too many times, caught completely off-guard, not expecting such an outburst. And a teenager who’s indignant at being subjected once again to a man’s explosive temper, when she had no idea she’d done anything wrong.
I wish I could report that I turned the other cheek. That I walked away without saying a word.
Instead I glared at the old man. And asked him with a sarcastic grin if he was having a good day.
He had no idea what kind of memories that moment brought to my mind.
But the Christ in me knows there’s a little boy in that old man, too. A little boy who still deserves to be loved.
And in my better moments, that’s who I see.