Last Friday I found myself in a place I’m not that fond of at the end of the week- the grocery store. It’s usually quite busy on a Friday afternoon, but I had no choice but to get myself there to buy some food for the weekend. And so as I meandered my way through the aisles, dodging children, grocery carts and displays that were oddly placed right where I needed to go, I tried to maintain a positive and upbeat attitude.
Man, it was busy there!
And so there I was, blocking an older man while I perused the chicken cooler. I apologized for being in the way as I tried to pull my cart to the side so he could pass. He told me he was 78 years old and wasn’t in too much of a hurry. Then he started to tell me about how his shoelace had come undone in the cereal aisle.
In his halting voice he said, “I had to tie up my shoe or I would have tripped.”
I looked down at his shoes, now perfectly tied.
“Everyone was rushing around to get their groceries and they were none too patient, it was plain to see. There was this one young woman who seemed quite put out at having to wait for me to tie my shoe so that she could pass.”
“Too bad for her.” I said, sticking up for the guy.
“So”, he said, “I was already down on one knee tying my shoe, and I looked up at her angry face. And I said to her, ‘Will you marry me?’”
You could say that unglued her, just a little.
The two of us had a great laugh there beside the chicken cooler; and then I went on to finish my shopping in a much more lighthearted mood. I was still chuckling to myself as I greeted other harried shoppers. They smiled back and some of us joked as we kept meeting, aisle after aisle. My world had brightened considerably. His little story showed me to not take myself so darned seriously.
I don’t know the man’s name and perhaps our paths will not cross again, but just because of that moment in time and a shared laugh, I’ll never forget him and the lessons he taught me about humor, compassion and kindness.