We took the whole family for a day of Christmas shopping this past weekend. Due to my previously mentioned disorder, we have shopped other years only in fits and starts, often making gifts and designating someone to pick up requested items. For no reason, this year was different. We loaded into the car for the hour and a half drive with list of locations and addresses in hand.
Around midday, we found ourselves at bookstore. While we browsed, a very distraught customer came in. A mistake had been made. The store owed her money, apologies, and prompt attention. The clerk answered kindly that it was Saturday and unfortunately the manager would not be in until Monday.
This news was met with rage and rising voice. I began looking for the children, wondering how to get them out the door before things got uglier. The clerk was undaunted in her warm and gracious demeanor. I got as far as having Boy one get Girl two to the car so at least we wouldn’t add to the unfolding scene with a display of toppled merchandise.
I tried to focus on novelty pens while emotional woman demanded immediate restitution for whatever had transpired on her credit card. Other shoppers waited in line. Ignoring the ongoing kindness of the clerk, the woman continued to argue the irrelevance of the manager’s absence. Here was a receipt, here was a copy of the credit statement . . .
In a voice that had miraculously lost not an ounce of patience, the clerk agreed to look at the documents presented. After that it got very quiet and the woman began to stammer in mortification. The store had not made a mistake. She had. She apologized beside with embarrassment and shame.
Nothing to worry about, said the clerk. It was an easy mistake to make. It happens to all of us, she added.
At this point, I ceased shopping and stared (one hopes with a modicum of stealth). Not sure what to do next, angry shopper on the verge stood repeating her wonder that this had happened. Curly white haired clerk walked around from behind her counter with open arms. Clerk scooped shopper gently into a hug that lasted long enough to speak kind words quietly and wait. Released by love, shopper walked off slowly almost speechless except for quiet thank you.
A witness to love’s raw beauty, I left in tears, amazed.