Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Checkout-line encounter 2: first impressions

The young couple ahead of me had already caught my attention even before we reached the checkout line.  They were both very large, and he was wearing an orange reflective vest.  In fact, I had almost mistaken him for a No Frills employee; fortunately I realized in time that he wasn't, so I didn't embarrass us both by asking him to help me get a box of Shreddies off a high shelf.

When I got to the checkout, the two of them were negotiating with the cashier; they'd brought a flyer from another store which supposedly had cheaper bacon, and they were trying to get the lower price.  The cashier pointed out that the ad they were referring to was for a different-sized package, hence the cheaper cost, so they weren't entitled to any discount.  I was a little irritated and wondered why they hadn't made sure beforehand that they had the right information rather than wasting everyone's time. 

I promptly forgot all about them, though -- until we went to Extend-a-Family's Christmas bazaar the following Saturday.  I was wandering around looking at the various booths with crafts and baking.  I stopped at a table with homemade jewelery:  dozens of pairs of inexpensive bead earrings -- no two sets the same -- all spread out across the table in tiny plastic bags.  And there, behind the table, placidly knitting, was the same young woman I'd seen at the grocery store only a few days earlier.

"These are nice," I said.  "Do you make them?"

"My son does," she said, motioning toward the small boy who sat slightly behind her, engrossed in a book.  "He's eight, and he has Asperger's.  It's his business and he does it all himself."

We talked for another minute or two; I don't remember anything else specific that she said, but I do remember how matter-of-fact she was about her son's situation, how laid-back and comfortable she seemed, and especially how proud she was of her son and his work.

I liked the earrings, so I bought three pairs.  When I put one pair on this past Sunday before church, I thought of her again.  You know that cliche, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression"?  In this case I was the one who got the second chance.  First time round, I dismissed her impatiently.  But next time I saw her as a proud mom who was helping and supporting her son ... and I admired her.


For a previous "Checkout-line encounter" post, click here.  You never know:  this may be a series in the making!


  1. What a blessing that you got a second opportunity to see this family in a brighter light! I have a dear aunt who has a favorite saying: "Every meeting is a divine encounter." Your post made me think of the many times she has said that to me. Beautiful story.

    This past Christmas my daughter gave me a pair of handmade earrings which she purchased from a young woman named Allie who has Down Syndrome. My daughter told me she was SO inspired by Allie that she wants to go into the jewelry crafting business too! http://www.allieartdesigns.com/

    1. I checked the link, Adriana: she does beautiful work! I love those pendants!

      It strikes me that the grocery store is a great place for divine encounters. Since I go there every week, I should be having many more of those. :-)

  2. Jeannie, you are so good at painting these pictures in a way that points out our shortcomings and how to grasp the opportunities to rise higher than our failings. It's all grace that raises us up, even when we don't see Jesus explicitly. You truly had a divine appointment with that family.

    1. Thanks, Tim. Yes, it's so easy to judge (ahem, you know what I mean) and we don't always get the opportunity to see things in a new way -- so when we do, it IS really grace isn't it?

    2. Jeannie, you are so perceptive and self-aware. It is always a delight and a lesson to read your blog.
      Thank you for sharing your insights. Your humanity is such a blessing.

    3. Thanks, Sarah -- I really appreciate your comment. xo


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