If you have ever watched the 1980's movie Terms of Endearment, you must remember that humiliating scene at the supermarket. That was me last night. Tired after work, I drove with my oldest son, Stephen, to CVS for a few items because…you know they did use the word Northeaster for the storm coming. And of course we can never find the fifty flashlights and batteries we bought in the past years. And three gallons of milk might not be enough for our four grown-up sons and teenage daughter.
I prefer using the self-checkout line so I have control, can change my mind, decide I don’t really need a bag of M&Ms, but none of those registers were working at CVS last night. The young blond didn’t look happy that I had about twenty items—I had to get more stuff because…you know when a storm is coming, you need extras like macaroni and cheese and soup and toothpaste. Anyway, I’m holding out my important CVS card and coupons because…of the storm…I got more stuff than expected and couldn’t have the total go over the sixty dollars in cash I brought. Then the girl hits total before she notices my coupons held in front of her nose.
“Ugh.” She sighed. “I’m going to have to ring everything all over again. You have to give me the coupons before I hit total.”
I didn’t say that she should have asked if I had coupons before hitting total or this wouldn’t have happened if they ever fixed the stupid self-checkout registers. I just watched her miserable face as she rechecked the items. If I brought more money, I would have skipped the coupons, but couldn’t do that since I cut it too close. It was the storm’s fault.
Somehow I miscounted. The total was sixty-two-something, and I had sixty-one something in my wallet. A line was forming behind me, so I handed her a toothpaste. “Can you take this off?”
She sighed again. “I’ll have to start all over and recheck everything. Once I hit total, I can’t go back.”
“Okay. I might have it.” I mumbled as I fished around my pocketbook with hope of finding some loose change. Nothing. Now would be a great time for the rapture, Lord. I want to disappear. My cheeks were on fire now as I called for Stephen, who was waiting by the exit, to come over and help. “Do you have a dollar?”
He held open an empty wallet.
At this point, I panicked. “Give me your credit card, and I’ll pay you back.”
I was thankful when he swiped his card so it was done, but I still had to pack my twenty-something items in the two bags I brought. Too late to pay for another bag. When I’m anxious, my hands feel like they’ve got butter-slathered mittens on trying gather falling cereal boxes. No help from the blond who didn’t smile.
Stephen helped me grab the rest of the stuff, and I rushed out without looking at the faces of the people in line. At least no one said anything out loud.
Stephen smiled. “That was fun.”
“I’m never shopping again.”
I realized two things when I got home: One. I accidentally bought the more expensive paper towels—the reason I was off by a dollar. Two. I forgot the flashlights and batteries.
If the Northeaster slams us, at least we’ll have plenty of toothpaste and the heavy duty paper towels to clean up what we spill in the dark.
Why was I so embarrassed at such a small flake of life? Paying a cashier in an orderly fashion is hardly a death or life matter. The answer has to be pride. I don’t want to make mistakes no matter where I am or what I’m doing, big or small. God doesn’t care about perfection; he cares about our heart and how we treat others. Maybe in my failure, God was pleased I kept my mouth shut.
Scripture verses to think about:
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13
“Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18