You judged me today.
I could feel your disdain as your gaze fell upon the items within my cart. As I loaded the first of my items on to the belt of your cashier stand, I apologized profusely, explaining that I knew I had many items, but that I lived in a house full of boys..and boys like to eat. Rather than commiserating with me, you rolled your eyes, not uttering a word as you began to swipe my packages across the scanner, loading each item in to an individual bag, your frustration evident as I continued to place my groceries on to the belt.
I wanted to chat with you. I could tell by your body language, the manner in which your eyes always fell downward, that something was bothering you. I wanted to encourage you, to let you know that your day would get better, in spite of customers like me, who probably seemed demanding.
But you weren’t interested. All you saw was the fullness of my cart, and more bags to be filled. Your perception of me was of someone whose child was listless, wandering to the aisle of trinkets near the checkout stand, ready to leave. You saw me as someone who was a mess, who had absolutely nothing together.
I suppose I judged you too. I wondered why you were so quiet, and questioned why you had engaged in conversation with the previous two customers, but when it was my turn, you remained completely silent and angry. I wondered if you were having a bad day, or if it was me. If I was your bad day. As I continued to unload my cart, another customer pulled his up behind me, and I instantly knew he was judging me too. I could feel it in the way he impatiently drummed his fingers on the handle of his cart, and I could hear it in the audible sighs he exhaled near my ear as I gathered my items from the top of my cart. I knew you were both making your own assumptions..neither of you attempted to hide it.
I’m sure that to you both, I looked like I didn’t belong there. Surely she can’t pay for all of these groceries, you were likely thinking. Though I am nearing 30 years in age, my physical appearance certainly does not match, and I knew what you were thinking, as you saw my 6 year old by my side. Probably a teen mom using government help. Just wait until she pulls out her food stamps.
As I pulled out my debit card and quickly swiped it across the scanner, a man approached your lane. He was asking for the location of large lighters. You looked overwhelmed, and I was just trying to help. I shop here often, and know where they are located. I told him which aisle they were in, and he left, thankful..yet you were perturbed.
I’m sure there was something on your mind. I wanted to ask. I wanted to help, to provide you with words letting you know that whatever situation you were going through, I was praying for you. But I didn’t. Because my very presence seemed to bother you.
After my items were scanned and my receipt was in hand, I pulled my cart, along with my 6 year old, to an empty lane, to adjust a few items and make certain they would not fall off of the cart on the way to the car. As I bent down, just out of your sight, I heard you speaking with the male customer behind me, the man who had been drumming his fingers. You both commented on me, how I seemed to have nothing together, and how many groceries I had. Rather than judge me silently, you were both doing it out loud, just out of what you thought was my reach.
I could have gone back to you in that moment, and expressed my frustration not only with our interaction but with your behavior afterward.
But instead, I prayed for you.
I prayed that perhaps one day, when you are on the other side of that cash register, and you need grace, someone will be kind enough to show it to you.
And I prayed that your day would get better.
I hope it did.