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I taught for several years at a residential school for children with emotional disabilities before staying home after the birth of my second daughter. I returned to teaching, finished my Educational Leadership program in May of 2012, and now work as our district's Writing and Social Studies Coordinator. I have always loved writing and find constant inspiration from my family. Maybe someday, I will get to see my name on the cover of a book!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Slice #8 of 31: A Reminder to be Kind in the Grocery Store Aisle

This month, I have committed to writing every day through the community at Two Writing Teachers. All are welcome to the March Slice of Life Challenge! 

I generally do most of my grocery shopping on the weekends. The last few weeks have inspired particularly crazy weekend grocery store madness because of all of the snowstorms. The weather patterns have favored Sunday storms. 

Today, the grocery store was quieter than I have come to expect on a Saturday afternoon. I found a close parking spot. I had a plethora of carts to choose from. The aisles were stocked... Maybe because I was with one of my daughters, or maybe because the store was less crowded, or maybe because we had no great sense of urgency, I found myself paying more attention to the people than I usually do. One particular woman, one particular interaction struck me. 

Walking down the mayonnaise aisle, I found myself stuck behind a woman with a walker, leading another woman with a cart. The first woman was clearly sick--she was way too thin, her color was off, her hair thin...The second woman was clearly helping her. Oblivious to other shoppers, they trekked down the aisle, trying to remember if they needed olive oil. There was no getting by them.

As another person passed us, having had to wait for the pair to get past a worker who was stocking shelves, she rolled her eyes. Not the friendly kind of eye roll, but the truly annoyed eye roll. The eye roll that says that this is an unbelievable inconvenience. 

"It could be a whole lot worse," I said quietly. 

She didn't hear me, and I didn't want her to, but what if she had? Would my question have given her a moment of pause to be grateful that she could walk down the aisles quickly and efficiently, held up only by slower shoppers in her midst? Or does she have demons that aren't so apparent--demons that rush her and render her impatient and hostile, incapable of an empathetic smile? 

I'm reminded that we don't know what keeps people up at night, what worries confront them when they wake.

And I'm reminded to be kind.

Happy Slicing,


  1. This is a good example of a snippet (Slice) that ends with a conviction. I people watch, too. Practicing patience is a skill. I wish I was patient and kind all the time. Shouldn't it be natural, but so often we are in a hurry or we see others as burdens, not as people with very real problems. Good lesson in kindness.

  2. Thanks, Melanie....a good reminder. There are a lot of situations that can "inconvenience" us, and it's so important to see past the delay to the bigger picture of what is truly important. As a mom of three, my reaction to small inconveniences teaches my kids so much...for better or for worse. Thanks again! ~ Jen

  3. Always choose kindness. It is so hard to watch (or read) moments like this because we know that someone out there is always fighting a bigger battle. If your biggest battle is being held up in an aisle at a grocery store, then LIFE IS GOOD. Great perspective piece,Melanie! Thanks for sharing.

  4. We seem to get lost in our own minds and issues. It is so important to pause and have an awareness of those around us.Grocery shopping can be an annoyance, especially when people park their cart in the middle of the aisle and stand contemplating which pasta to buy. I am sure it was quite obvious to see that they were having physical problems moving down the aisle.

  5. Such an important reminder, Melanie. My mom had brain surgery a year ago, and now lives in assisted living and uses a walker. I take her to the grocery store every . It's super stressful, trying to manage the cart and her walker, and worrying that she is going to fall. Can't even tell you how much I appreciate the kindness of strangers on those days!

  6. We truly do not know the burdens or joys that other people are dealing with. It is not ours to judge or criticize. It is our to smile and show grace.

  7. The older I grow, the more patience I have in all situations. This is such a good reminder to exhibit kindness.