Peeling an Onion

Every day I get up and make a couple of decisions. I’m determined to be happy and to be a better person than I was the day before. Sometimes, its not so easy but I do my best to make it happen. Part of being a better person is seeing the good in people – all people, not just the ones I love and care about.

Yesterday, the universe decided to offer up a challenge in the form of The Cranky Old Man. Yeah, I know, that’s not his name – for now that will have to suffice. Plus, instead of going into a long description, I’m pretty sure you have a visual image at this point. I do mean the name in the in the nicest way possible, by the way. Anyway, back to Mr. Cranky.

I’d trekked off to do one of my favorite things – grocery shopping. Okay, I don’t really enjoy it but I was trying to make the best of the chore. I got my cart  ready to enter the store when this man cuts right in front of me. I’d brought my good mood, along with my grocery bags, so I gave my biggest, nicest smile and said, “Go right ahead,” as I waited for him to enter the store. Not wanting to end up right on his heels I took an extra minute to adjust my shopping bags in the cart. Then I strolled in.

Good mood still intact. For the moment. I’m checking out the sales items the store has graciously placed in the entrance as I double-check my shopping list. Not a care in the world. I can see Mr. Cranky ahead of me, plenty of room to fit numerous carts between us. I’m practically humming a Disney tune as I try to keep my cart, with the wonky wheel steering straight. My good mood will not be deterred by a misaligned shopping cart.

Then Mr. Cranky stops, smack in the middle of the aisle. “Well, if you’re going to pass me, pass me. I hear your cart going from side to side.”

“I wasn’t trying to pass you.”

“I could hear you back there. Trying to race past me.”

“It’s the wheels on the cart,” I offered as I strolled past him as graciously as I could.

“Shopping cart wheels? Yeah, I heard you…”

At that moment it took every single ounce of self control to keep myself calm. Good grief, road rage in the grocery store! I wanted to stop and try to make it better. Maybe he was having a bad day and just needed to share it. I wanted to make a difference and change his day. Until I realized it would be like peeling an onion. I’d shed plenty of tears and at the end, it would still be an onion. I can’t change everyone. His body language, the rage in his eyes. It was all there. I’d already given him my best smile, and been polite. I’d tried. Maybe I could have done more. Maybe I should have done more. I’m not sure. But I know at least I did one thing right. I didn’t engage him and make it worse. I let his words bounce off me. Sometimes that the most we can do. I hope it was enough.

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