Random Axe

Shopping carts at Lowe'sWhile I freed a shopping cart at Lowe’s, an older couple ambled over to pull one from the long line of hooked carts. The man appeared a bit unbalanced so, thinking he might appreciate something to steady him, I pushed one in his direction. “Would you like a shopping cart?”

Unsmiling, he grasped the handle with an aside comment. “I hope you don’t expect me to give you a dollar.”

Pardon?

“No,” I said, tensing. “Maybe a ‘thank you.’ But that isn’t even necessary. I was just trying to be neighborly.”

He harrumphed and veered away, in case I might suddenly reach over, grab a free public wipe, and literally clean his cart. With my other cashless hand outstretched.

Good grief.

Why would anyone think I’d beg-for-a-buck by offering a shopping cart to an elderly gentleman? (Make that a grouchy geezer.) I glanced down at my freshly ironed blouse and Coach bag. Surely he hadn’t mixed me up with someone who jumped off the curb at stoplights and squirted clean windshields with dirty water.

I pulled out my compact, flipped open the mirror, and examined the reflection. (Ah, youth is so fleeting!) Okay, maybe I was a little scary looking, but really. His response was over the line.

My inner Good Samaritan shook her head. How sad that this man seemed so jaded he couldn’t accept a small kindness from a stranger. With no expectations in return. But that was not the issue.

More depressing was my inadequate response. I should have had a funny, uplifting quip at-the-ready. Something to make him grin instead of grump off in a huff.

“Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.” At least, according to a quote by C. Neil Strait. Had I offered an unkind attitude along with the shopping cart? Not my intention. But certainly my response was less than adequate.

I found myself not so lifted by Strait’s comment. So I turned to another source of wisdom. AESOP and The Lion and the Mouse.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Whew. That’s better. I’m glad I gave him the cart…but still…I long for a do-over.

Aesop Lion & Mouse

By Christine Russell

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Random Axe

  1. Colleen Ryan

    Sadly, not everyone is blessed with God’s grace and eternal joy. You did what was right, don’t let the enemy make you think what you did was wrong. All you can do now, is pray for that unhappy man and maybe the Lord can get through to him:) You are a jewel in His eye, the apple of His eye, don’t ever doubt it. God bless YOU.

    • Cathy Elliott

      Thank you so much, Colleen, for the soothing words. You are right, of course. It is so amazing to belong to Him, to be all that you said, without earning or deserving it on my own. Words have such power, no? Which is why I wish I’d had better words for that man. An opportunity missed! I’ll try to be ready for the next one. Equipped with more than a wee deed, but kind words, too. Blessings back!

  2. When I lived in the Bronx, we tipped for everything. We shopped at the grocery and left our items there for delivery because it was such a hassle to get them into our car. Carts were not allowed out in the parking lot and most people just walked to the grocery stores. So the man who delivered them to our apartment got a tip, one dollar per box, and the doorman got a tip for loaning the delivery man a cart to bring the boxed items up to the ninth floor. Every year, the NY Times published an article telling folks how much to tip everyone at holiday time. Tips added up to a LOT of money, and back in NYC, yes, people often offered a tip to someone who was simply offering a courtesy, because the expectation of tipping was so engrained in the culture. Perhaps the grumpy geezer is a transplant from another part of the country where he was tipped to death for much of his life. Or he might have been constipated.

    • Cathy Elliott

      Sharon, what a great insight! I see what you mean. Maybe he IS a New Yorker or something, just trying to be sure he didn’t mess up the shopping cart etiquette protocol. Except that he said, “I hope you don’t EXPECT me to give you a dollar.” Hmm. I wonder? Or it could have been a result of that OTHER problem you mentioned.

      Either way, I can only control my own reaction to an ungracious remark. So, I need to up my kindness quotient a bit. 🙂

  3. Laurie

    Judging from your post, I’d say the fellow was likely an old military man. They always tipped the kids who took their carts out from the commissary, at leasy my dad always did. Not much, but then he was alive when a quarter was a lot! We’ve come to a time where we are expected to tip everyone – from the hairdresser to the dog groomer. I’m not sure where to draw the line. But that’s still no excuse for bad manners! Possibly your fellow just didn’t like to be reminded that he needed help; likely he didn’t like a young whipper snapper of a woman pointing it out to him and even possibly his wife or companion had chastized him for not brining his cane! Who knows? Only the Lord.

  4. Nancy Bailey

    Great reminder. I needed it today. Love ya….Nancy

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