It was 5:25 and I was in line at Target. I should have been pulling into my kids’ day care, which was about 5 minutes from Target. I typically pick them up at 5:30 every day. The school is open until 6, so I had a little wiggle room, though I knew my 5-year-old son was going to ask “Why are you SOOOOO late?” when I walked in.
On that particular day, I had stopped at Target on my way to the school to pick up a few groceries and household necessities. We had been away for the weekend and desperately needed some things to get us through the week – especially milk.
Only two lanes were open, and I strategically did my best to pick the one that would run fastest. The two customers ahead of me had very few items, so I breathed a sigh of relief that this was going to go fast and I wouldn’t be too late.
As I quickly learned, I picked the lane with the slowest cashier in the history of Target.
I have been really trying to work on my patience in situations like this. I reminded myself, life is not an emergency. Be patient, I said to myself. Maybe he is new.
Finally, it was my turn. My cart was loaded with $200 worth of products – diapers, cheese sticks, lunch meat, a vaporizer for those dry winter nights – even a few cute cardigans that I found 70% off.
The cashier slowly placed each item in the bags. I looked over at the other lane and notice people seemed to be flying through it.
Why didn’t I pick her? I thought to myself.
Then my mind turned to grace, grace, grace. Be kind to this man. You don’t know his circumstances. Focus on this moment right now. Being impatient doesn’t help anything. Slow down. You’ll get to school.
So I offered to help bag the items and he thanked me sincerely.
Breathe. Life is not an emergency.
It was 5:40 when I got to my car to unload my bags. I finished putting them in the trunk and grabbed my coat that was sitting on the front seat of the cart. Under it were two gallons of milk… that I hadn’t paid for.
I sighed, shut my trunk and quickly went back into the store. The service desk employee thanked me for being honest. I said “of course,” and thought to myself, what is the lesson here?
In my haste to get through that lane quickly, I missed things in my cart. I was not present in that moment. Milk was the one thing we REALLY needed. I should have noticed it not on the conveyer belt.
I called my husband to let him know we were going to be a bit late and explained what had happened. I said to him, “I had to keep telling myself to be kind and patient, even though I was getting so irritated. And then when I saw the milk, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Although, I sort of could. The lesson I needed to learn was pretty obvious.
Haste makes waste. Be kind. Be patient. Be present.
I pulled into day care at 5:50. My son asked why I was so late, just as I expected. I told him I had to get a few groceries, but I had cheese sticks in the car.
Cheese sticks cover a multitude of sins to a 5-year-old.
As we drove home, we sang the ABCs and figured out words that started with each letter. I was fully present and didn’t worry about the fact that we had left daycare at the time we normally are home at night.
The kids laughed and sang loudly. It was the best ride home in a long time and I think it was because that Target run reminded me that slowing down is always best.
And when we got home, the kids each had a glass of milk.
Q: Do you find yourself getting impatient when you are in a hurry? How do you slow yourself down and be present in the moment?