I can’t think of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that I DON’T like. One, in particular, popped to mind recently when I was (yes, again) at Costco:
“Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn life around.” – MLK Jr.
Let me set the stage. Costco was jammed and it struck me that it was the first time I’d seen that many people shopping in close proximity – without masks (mostly) in ages.
Toward the front, near the checkouts, there were loads of fresh plants – perennials and mums on six-foot tall, massive rolling carts. It looked like a makeshift greenhouse – one that created a Tetris-like maze for shoppers to navigate. Get the picture?
Despite the tight quarters, folks were navigating pretty well with their laden carts, except for one sweet mom. She was attempting to push a flatbed with a wonky wheel with one hand, while holding onto a toddler with the other. On her hip was a round-faced, wide-eyed baby enjoying his pacifier while looking me over.
Mom’s flatbed load was substantial. Diapers and towels, cases of juice and jugs of milk. I suspect she settled for the flatbed because carts were scarce – all in use on a busy day.
As she tried to turn a corner, the front edge of the flatbed made contact with a display of nuts and then ricocheted forward into a cart with plants. Wowza. I was behind her and I could slow-mo see what was happening but couldn’t stop it. Stuff was flying – but no one got hurt.
Mom held on tight to the baby and the toddler knew to duck behind her – which is where I was. Good thing my hands were free because her little dude jumped in my arms to avoid the cascade of cashews.
Oddly, I wasn’t surprised. It was a mutual move – he jumped up and I scooped at the same time, synchronized-like. After the clatter and confusion, mom turned around and began apologizing to me, to everyone around her and then stopped – realizing a strange woman (me!) was holding her oldest.
She was colossally embarrassed and stressed. Creating a scene in a public place does that to some of us. Been there; done that – but it’s been a while since I was in her shoes. Wanting to hide but needing to tough it out, because, you know. You’re the mom.
The Costco folks reset the cashew display and removed the plants and dirt that landed on mom’s flatbed, mixed in with the diapers and stuff. They were so sweet – ushering her to a closed checkout lane to speed things up, get her on her way.
As I walked behind her, still carrying her big boy, he announced, “You’re a nice lady and you smell good.” Mom heard this and laughed – apologizing to me one more time. “No problem”, I said. “Right place at the right time. Moms stick together, you know?”
I doubt I’ll ever see them again, but it was a sweet reminder of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote. Cheers to simple stuff, like the smallest act of caring when the opportunity arises, at Costco. Or anywhere. Right up my alley – and yours, too. I just know it.
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