The Grocery Basket Incident

I grew up in Texas. If I didn’t say “yes ma’am,” “no, sir,” and so on, I got a swat on the butt. People hold the door for you there and apologize for bumping you in a crowd, even if they’re in a rush to get somewhere. I never realized that there was any other way to treat people.

Then, we were assigned to Miami (yes, we got lucky — I know, I know).Aisle in a grocery store

The people are passionate and wonderful in many ways. Our neighbors brought us food before they even knew us. Many people were very welcoming. But, on the road, at a restaurant, in the grocery store … or really anywhere you can think of, people are also likely to mow you over, cut you off with malice, or push you out of the way.

For a long time, I thought I was watching this rudeness with a disgruntled, yet distant, distaste. But I guess I’d been pushed off of the milk aisle one too many times, because one day, I did something crazy.

A woman, who was considering a colorful array of canned goods, had turned her basket to completely block the aisle. And she wasn’t in a hurry. After I’d waited a few minutes, I realized that her seemingly intentional message was that she did not care if she was in the way. In fact, I began to suspect that she was in the way on purpose, in some sort of crazy status display.

Now, I could have gone around to another aisle to pass, but what I needed was just on the other side of her. So, I said, “Excuse me,” (though I was having visions of backing my cart up, running down the aisle, and bursting through the barricade she created). And would you believe, she did not move an inch? I felt sure that she could not be this rude, so I repeated myself. She looked at me from the corner of her eye. And, I kid you not, she did not move.

That’s when it happened.

Grocery basket

I grabbed her basket, and I pushed it out of my way. I touched someone else’s basket! When she was still touching it! Doesn’t that cross the line of some sort of unspoken grocery store civil boundary? It felt like it, but with my head held high, I marched over beside her, grabbed my can of beans, and marched off.

It took me a while to realize just how ridiculous the whole scene was. I was seething with anger … over a grocery basket. Over rudeness that I could have easily ignored. Yes. I think that qualifies as crazy.As I reflected on the moment, I realized though, that sometimes all of the little frustrations add up without you knowing it. A few pushes on the dairy aisle, a few people who ignored me as I tried to politely pass, and suddenly the polite little Texan in me totally disappeared.

Sometimes, insignificant things amount to something that just sends you over the edge. (Please don’t try to tell me you’ve never felt the crazy coming on.) The important thing is to catch yourself before you go grabbing another woman’s grocery basket.

Remember to show others and yourself a little grace. Who knows what they’re going through? If some little annoyance is getting out of hand, take a second to address it. Figure out why it bothers you and how you can keep yourself from going off the deep end. Don’t let the little things steal your joy or your identity.