Monday, December 31, 2007

At the Check-out

Two stories


I did a little shopping for food the other day and had a cartful at check-out. I started to unload.
A young man in a hurry (you can just tell) with only two items takes a place behind me. I turn to him and say, "Go ahead of me."

He does so, grateful.

Then a really famous and successful (we assume, K"H)* restaurateur gets behind me with his cart, not empty, not full, maybe 7 items. But I don't want to let him in, too, or I'll never get out of there. I try to pretend I haven't noticed him and continue to unload. At some point he catches my eye.

"I'm really sorry," I say (always guilty), "I'd let you in, too, but you know how it is. First you let one person in, then another, then another. You're at Hungarian all day long! You know how much the store's take is at the end of the day!"

Kenny laughs and says, "Don't worry about it. I'm in NO hurry."

"Great. So how are ya'?" I ask. May as well make small talk. I'm in a good mood.

"I woke up this morning," he smiles. "So many choices."

"That's my father's line," I shoot back, "I woke, up," he says, "didn't I?"

"No, it's true," Kenny objects, even though I'm agreeing. "I wake up. I look over. I see her. And I'm so grateful to be alive." He continues awhile about all that he's grateful for, a sunny day, that sort of thing, and I nod, agree. We've got time while the cashier is scanning away.

"Everyone could think this way," I say, "when they wake up."

He gives me a skeptical look, one of those raised eyebrow things, as in, YOU should know better.

"I guess not."

So easy to forget. Life is tough. It can be very tough.

This time of year people are grateful, though. For all my talk about how sad people are, and how distressing the holidays can be, and it's true, the season can be brutal, at the very end it seems, on Xmas eve and the days before the new year, people come in all warm and fuzzy. The conflictual couples conflict less. People try this time of year. They even make New Years resolutions.

So I'll say it again, even though in my gut I know it's impossible. Everyone could think this way. I got up today. It's good.

It's a goal, is all.


Rabbi Polstein in Chicago tells this one. He's taught this annecdote to his students.
It's a few hours before a holiday (in this case, Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year).
Everyone's cart is full. Everyone's in a hurry. The grocery store is mobbed. The lines are long. At the very front of the line a man, new to the neighborhood, has checked out. His groceries are in the bag. He reaches into his pocket for his wallet. He can't find it.

Everyone's waiting around trying to think of what to do, and a rabbi, clearly not a rich man, hands him his credit card. "Just take it," the rabbi says.

The guy argues, "No, no, how can I do that." (Everyone else is going, take it, take it). Finally he does, and of course, after the holiday, he pays back the rabbi right away.
So Rabbi Polstein gave a class on a snowy morning and told us that once, after telling this story, he happened to be in a grocery store a few hours before Shabbas, and almost the same thing happened. People had lined up at the check-out and the cashier told a woman just ahead of him that her credit card had been rejected.

She has a load of groceries. It's an expensive order.

The rabbi says to himself, Polstein, Polstein, this is your big test! What are you going to do? What are you going to do? He's shifting his weight, scratching his beard, tzittering (basically, worrying)

Finally, he can stand it no longer. He pulls out his credit card and offers it to the woman who is still leafing through her wallet to no avail.

"Here, take mine," he says.

She looks at him like he's crazy. "What? You think I have only one credit card?"

A happy 2008, my friends.


* K"H removes the evil eye.


Sorah said...

Very nice stories! =]

Becky P said...

Thanks for the great stories!

Happy New Year!

Jack's Shack said...

Happy New Year to you too.

katiebird said...

Thanks, TherapyDoc -- for everything. I've been in lurk mode for too long. But, I'll try to comment more often in 2008. I'm resolved.

Rising Rainbow said...

OK, that made me laugh! But at the same time it is very sad. Some people just have no clue they're living in that defensive space.

C. K. said...

Oh that's a great story! Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting the universe into perspective. It's so easy to forget our connections with others, especially when things just aren't going our way. We can choose to be Eeyore, or Tigger...or Pooh, and he knows that some days, it's all about the hunney.

therapydoc said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we could have perspective at will? Like you feel badly and then whip out Perspective.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Happy 2008 to you too!

Polar Bear said...

Great stories. Thanks for sharing that.

I'll have to remember this - I got up today. It's good.

LemonLimeMoon said...

The stories put a smile on my face today! Thanks

Anonymous said...

I gave up on new year's resolutions a long time ago, but this is worth resolving to do each morning. "I got up today. It's good."

Thank you so much for sharing.

JHS said...

Thanks so much for participating in this week's Carnival of Family Life hosted at Pajama Mommy Community! Be sure to drop by and check out some of the other wonderful entries this week!


Sandy Carlson said...

Great lessons on attitude, here. I sure do appreciate these.

I'm here from Hopeful Spirit's blog.

God bless.

Patricia Singleton said...

Human nature can be a funny thing. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at could post it.


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