A little story about Aldi

Today, I bring you a story.

Don't worry, it's not a fictional story. You should be grateful, because I think my concept of creating fiction would sound something like, "the girl with brown hair said hi to him. He did not want to say hi back."

RIVETING. It's the next Girl on the Train.

Nevertheless, here is my story.

I have not been, how would you say it, ON THE BALL recently with the ole meal planning and grocery lists. So, when it got to be 4 PM yesterday and I realized that, despite our empty pantry and fridge, the natives were still expecting dinner, I figured I better make a list to the best of my ability and head to Aldi.
Image result for different people public domain

A typical grocery store visit with my littles is not without some sort of unforeseen circumstance. Someone usually punches someone in the cart or starts a lively commentary on the physical qualities of everyone within a 15-ft radius. It just is what it is. We have exhaustive conversations en route to the store about expectations and, alas, the little people are still learning. So, on we go.

This particular visit was eerily perfect. Everyone stayed in their respective seat. No one asked for anything that wasn't on the list. Everyone was polite and cheerful and, dare I say, delightful grocery store company. When we got to the checkout line, the boys helped unload all of our groceries onto the belt, which was actually extremely helpful as their was a very long line behind us.

Now, my 3-year-old had precariously placed a glass bottle of salad dressing next to some bananas and, when the cashier flipped the button to draw the groceries to her, the bottle toppled off the belt and onto the floor. It shattered into several pieces with shards of glass sliding incredible distances across the grocery store floor. One piece lodged into my heel and it was only a second or two after I removed it that a stream of blood formed with every intent of staining my shoe.

There were two women in front of me that had just paid and they instantly dropped to their hands and knees, crawling around grabbing pieces of glass. A man behind me grabbed a cardboard box for them to place the glass in and another woman behind me retrieved a roll of paper towels for the blood on my foot. Another lane had opened due to my "situation" but these four people hung around to help. The man even ran to the back of the store to find me a replacement bottle of dressing without me asking him to.

I felt terribly. It was after 5 PM at this point, and Aldi was BUSY. Not to mention, the women in front of me had already paid for their ONE item, and the woman and man behind me were each only holding one item each. The rest of the people in line shifted to the newly available checkout lane, but these people, inconvenienced greatly by me and my kids, stuck around to help. I thanked them all profusely, paid for my groceries, and hobbled out of the store, kids in tow.

It was only when I was later recounting the story to my husband that I realized some other details... not only were none of these people buying enough things to warrant a cart, but the women in front of me that helped pick up glass were an older lesbian couple. The woman behind me who grabbed paper towels and entertained my children was a black woman. The man who went and got another bottle of dressing for me and also found a box for the glass pieces was an Asian man.

NONE of them looked like me. I was a total inconvenience to their 5 o'clock grocery store run for a single item. Yet, they did not hesitate for a second to see a need and meet it. There were plenty others in the store that sighed exasperated sighs and moved to the other lane... but not these few.

I think, in light of all of the divisiveness, xenophobia and racism that is still alive and well in our culture, it is stories like these that need to be shared. Not everyone sucks. Not everyone just looks out for themselves. I am deeply humbled. As someone who makes 5 o'clock grocery store runs with 3 small children on a regular basis, I can tell you that most people make their annoyances known by being stuck behind me in line. I can tell you that most people rush to beat me to the line so they don't have to wait on me to unload a week's worth of food. But not these special people. They were compassionate and kind. They took initiative. They were helpers. They were servants. I was so blessed by these individuals. My shoe is not stained thanks to the woman who grabbed the paper towels. We still had salad dressing for dinner thanks to the man who selflessly ran to the back of the store to grab another bottle. The likelihood of someone else getting cut by glass was dramatically decreased thanks to the women in front of me. They saw and they served. They allowed themselves to be inconvenienced.

This is necessary to share. Share the stories of people helping and serving. Especially when they look differently from you. We have more than enough stories of differences and misunderstandings. Let's change the narrative and start a new dialogue.


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