Monday, May 28, 2012

Are There Angels Among Us?

A lot has happened to me over the last couple of weeks.  In fact, my entire life has turned completely upside down.  I’m angry and frustrated and sad almost all the time.  Frankly, these feelings aren’t new to me but it’s almost like there is salt constantly being rubbed in very deep, very open wounds.

I don’t like it. 
In fact, it seems like there is much going on in the world around me I don’t like.  There are mean, nasty people everywhere I turn.  There is extreme poverty the world round and it only seems as though the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Spouses are unfaithful, childhood innocence is being ripped away from today’s youth at an alarming rate, and there seems to be an endless supply of distrust and pain around every corner and in every home.

Honestly, we aren’t completely immune from these issues; no one is.  If we aren’t directly affected by these issues, there is someone in our lives who is dealing with these concerns first hand.  It sucks.
So then, what do we do about it? If you have an answer, please let me know because I have truly tried to sort through this conundrum for quite some time.

Part of my personal angst is that I’m preparing to enter my final semester of my MBA program and I’m a cashier. Okay, I’m a cashier one to two nights a week, the rest of the time I work at our corporate offices or I’m managing the store. But still, I am a college-educated, 27-year-old cashier. 
Often when I'm in my register, I can feel the condescending, judgmental looks of the people I am checking out.  It hurts. I’ve always had a complex and worried about what everyone thinks about me. So, when I’m at work and treated like I’m below someone it really bothers me. Like, a lot. 

Occasionally, if the store gets slow and I’m left to my own thoughts, I can find myself in a really lonely, depressing place and it isn’t good.

Saturday was one of those times. 

It was raining out, the customers in my store were all miserable and didn’t care who felt their wrath. On top of that, the wind had really whipped up the pollen in the air and allergy sufferers throughout the supermarket (me included) were constantly rubbing their noses and eyes. Everyone was miserable - or so I thought. 

I was truly getting down and depressed and I didn’t see any possible way of changing my mood. That was until an older gentleman came up to my check stand with a big, warm smile and a giant armful of beautiful flowers. If I didn't know better, I'd think he was my own personal angel sent to pull me out of a potentially dangerous situation.

“Good morning, sir, were you able to find everything okay today?” I asked.

“I most certainly did, young man, thank you for asking,” was his kind reply.

“Wonderful!” I said. “How are you today?”

Then he said something that really stopped me in my tracks.  Like, literally, I stopped what I was doing and looked at him to see if he was serious.  He was.

“I’m so good, son,” he said. “If I was any happier, I’d need to be split in half.  I am happy enough for two people.”

And so the exchange briefly continued.  His genuine happiness and generous smile were both infectious and I am so grateful I met him this weekend.  It’s almost as though he effervesced goodness and happiness.  I was jealous. Well, maybe not jealous but I was definitely envious.  I wanted to be that happy and warm and kind and generous and… and… and….

So this is my goal.  I am going to strive to be good, and happy, and warm, and kind, and generous, and ___________ (fill in the blank).

I’m not sure how, just yet, but I will be better. I have to be; I need to be – I can’t live with the burden of this much pain forever.

So, here’s to change. Here’s to us and to our happiness!


  1. If people look down on you for doing an honest day's work regardless of the position it speaks volumes about them. One day you will be proud of this job. Working yourself through school is honorable and u should wear it like a badge.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. It means the world to me. I truly do appreciate the fact that I have a job and I have learned a lot about myself and others too in this position. I'm a man in the making and this is definitely a part of my process. Thanks!

  2. I'm having a hard time coming up with a legitimate reason that people would be judging you as you own that cashiering gig. Obviously they don't know you so they get no say; and if they're evaluating you on what they can see alone and nothing else then I say their opinions don't count for snot anyway.

    1. Sorry, I'm late to the responding party. Anyway, like Tiff says below, unfortunately there aren't always legitimate reasons to judge someone and we all do it, you know? I think these people look at me and think, "Wow, he's getting on in years. No ring, no "real" job, just like Brigham Young said, he truly is a menace to society." Hmmm. If they only knew...

  3. I wanted to say something about the judging cashiers issue...something like only jerks do that...but the truth is I totally judge people for their job status. I think it's a social thing. In society we place people into certain positions based on their outward appearance--their job, house, car, spouse, etc. I've realized that I'm not any different. I take part in the social judging. I don't at all see people as less than me by any means. I worked in fast food before. I worked as a sample girl for a while. I have a lot of respect for people, but I admit I still classify those people even if I'm not necessarily belittling them in my mind... hmmm.

    I like this story.

    And I feel good to know that I was that man once. I mean, I did that same sort of thing once. My friend and I went to the grocery to buy something (I can't even remember what) and as we checked out the cashier asked me how I was doing. I said FANTASTIC. She stopped and looked at me and said, "really?" I smiled and said, "Yeah." She said that I made her day.

    It's amazing how we can affect people.

    You're one of those people for me every time I see you, MJ. Even when life is tough, you always seem to have such a cheerful disposition. You always make me smile.

    1. You are always like that for me, too. I want to surround myself with happy people. I know that that probably won't ever totally happen, but I am glad to have people like you in my life to help lift me up when you ARE around. Love you!