My eldest son accompanied me to the grocery store earlier this week on my way to drop him off at summer basketball camp. We walked through the produce. He commented on the epic Gatorade sale, so I let him choose a flavor. (It seemed only fair after forcing him to hold the myriad of groceries for which I did not think I needed a basket).
Next, we found ourselves in the dairy section so I could get my familiar plain yogurt. The bakery happens to be right by the diary isle. We both smelled the freshly baked sugared bliss wafting toward us through the air, encouraging us to peek at what delectable sweets were housed just around the corner.
Finally, we reached the checkout isle. One of the few businesses in America that still hires cashiers and does not force unpaid merchants to do it themselves, pro bono. After my son dropped my perfectly chosen bunch of bananas on the floor (Sigh), we put everything on the black conveyor belt and waited for the total.
The cashier was an older woman. She was still wearing a mask, even though the mandate in our city has recently expired. I am not sure if it is a choice or if her employer forces those who are not vaccinated to continue masking. Lost in my own thoughts and plans for the day, I was startled when she indicated it was time for my debit card.
As she approved my purchase from her side of the register, my son grabbed the bags and we started to walk away from the register toward the door. The older woman looked me straight in the eye, I could not tell if she was smiling due to her mask, but her eyes revealed a kindness in her that made me assume she always smiled when speaking to others.
Instead of ‘Thank You’, ‘Have a Nice Day’ or some other typical greeting or random salutation, she simply said: “Be Safe Out There.”.
Those four words caught me off guard since they are not the typical thoughtless small talk I am used to hearing after a brief exchange with a stranger. Upon thinking about it after we left, I was blissfully struck by the words she carefully chose.
My family is a cautious one, to say the least. I grew up with parents that told me to call when I arrived at my destination, sick with worry when I inevitably forgot to call, and assumed I was lying in a ditch somewhere, hoarsely screaming for help. My Dad was very wary of me doing anything social in the winter. Being a MoDot retiree, he has seen horrible wrecks exposed on the highways in the bitter cold, blustery winter nights. I am pretty sure my parents have insurance on their insurance; they are just those people. Thus, I have become one of those people as well, which started somewhere around the time I had my first son. Some call it obsessive, hovering, borderline insane; I call it cautious, protective, loving and my favorite four-letter word, S-A-F-E.
So, when someone tells me to ‘be safe’, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they genuinely care. Those words to me are interchangeable with I love you.
If you think about it, the desire for others’ safety is quite possibly the highest form of care toward our loved ones.
That is why I preach to my children about seat belts, life jackets, driving as if everyone on the road is out to kill you (which often feels like a harsh reality). I drive home the need for helmets, first aid kits, epi-pens, bear spray and snake repellent. You name it, I have preached it and my sons have respectfully rolled their little eyes at their fuddy duddy old Mom that tends to worry too much about their safety.
We often think as Christians it is a daunting task to love others. That we must do something BIG to display our faith to the world. Yet, in my experience, it is the little things that speak the loudest. The tiny actions that show care often snuff out the best laid plans of the verbal mercenary, aka Bible Thumper.
This world is a dangerous place. Yet.
Speaking volumes greater than the protestors on the square, preachers on TV and politicians making promises only to tabulate countless votes, with no intention of keeping them once the election is over. The kind checker at the old-time grocery store cared enough to say ‘Be Safe’. That, to me, is a shining act of love in a dark and scary world.
Amannda Maphies has always gone by Manndi; and yes, it has two n’s. It is actually a perfect moniker for her as she’sa bit (more than a bit) zany, wacky, crazy and loves nothing more than to laugh at herself and share that laughter with others. Manndi works fulltime at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, has two boys, William (10) and Waylan (8). She loves to write so she recently started posting on Facebook about her daily adventures about everything from being a single mom of two wild and crazy boys to dating after divorce, to more serious topics such as the loss of a loved one and suicide awareness. She trie to infuse humor, relatability and a touch of inspiration into each of her pieces. One day, she will compile them for a memoir of her life. Manndi’s life motto is ‘live a life you would want to read about’ and she strives everyday to reach others with her words. She feels that you are only as happy as you choose to be and she CHOOSES happiness over all other emotions. She is honored to be featured in a publication named ‘Positively Positive’ because that is truly how she strives to live life.
Image courtesy of Lisa.