This morning (2 days before Christmas) the parking lot of the Trader Joe’s was a zoo. People were honking, angry and agitated. The lines were long and no one looked happy. It made me sad, and I kept thinking about how much value there is in steering our life’s mundane activities from a perspective of acceptance. This is a huge part of 12 step recovery programs. Accepting what is, instead of resisting it and being angry about unmet expectations.
An associate of the store came over and asked if I’d like a chocolate truffle while I waited. (Seems silly, but, little things are big). I gladly accepted and savored the chocolaty sweetness on my tongue. When I got to the checkout person, paid and gathered my purchases, I leaned over and told the checker “May the force be with you.” He made direct eye contact and whispered thank you. At the door I was met with another associate handing out mini bouquets of flowers – for free!
Later in the day when picking up a grocery order from Ralph’s, I was informed that my order wouldn’t be available at the promised time, but that they’d call when it was ready. Later, after receiving said call, I made my way back. The parking lot was still a crazy mess, and there was no parking. Again, no happy faces, all of us scurrying around trying to get our things done before the weekend. Calling in to let them know I was ready to pick up my order, I was informed that my order was given to another customer by mistake. Hannah, the curbside associate, profusely apologized, informed me that my order would be free, and thanked me for my patience. About 15 minutes later, I was informed that they had my order, and was I still here to pick it up….but also that there were a couple of items that were out of stock.
No problem. They were kind – it was hilarious to me at this point. They had likely been yelled at by other customers all day and there was no need to add to their stress. Having worked in retail, I get how brutal it is this time of year.
Hannah made her way out to my car and said, “I don’t believe we are out of these items they said they were. Can I go back and grab them for you?”
“Oh you really don’t have to do that. I know you all must be insanely busy at this point,” I replied, figuring I would stop and get the last 2 items at another store.
“It’s really no problem – give me 2 minutes!” and she dashed back into the store. She returned with 3 brands of each item and let me choose. I thanked her again and marveled at how I will always think of this incidence when shopping, but that they’ve made a loyal customer for as long as we are here.
All of this could have gone so differently. I could have been bitchy and raged about the inconvenience of having to make multiple trips across town. I could have let the anger of other parking lot drivers seep into my attitude. I could have taken my irritation out on the people waiting on me.
One thing that became apparent when I stopped drinking, and dug a little deeper, was how the 12 steps were more than just a guide to no longer drinking. It’s that, for sure, but it’s also a plan to lead an emotionally adult life, ie, take responsibility for our actions and doing the introspective work needed to be at peace in one’s own skin, regardless of what is happening around us. To, as a friend of mine says, “Shed peace, not discord, wherever you go…”
Even during the chaos of a grocery store 2 days before Christmas.
And sometimes it even means chocolate, flowers, and free groceries.