The parking lot was full, but nothing out of the ordinary. I’m lucky when I find a parking spot up front on any day. After pulling into a space, I headed into the grocery store.
As I entered the store space, something felt a little different. People seemed to be moving at a slightly faster rate around the store. Looking over to my right, I noticed rows of blank space where bananas used to sit. I continued down the aisle. As I entered the meat aisle, I noticed people shopping as usual. There was a woman staring into the glass freezer, a few people waiting for some seafood, and a couple holding each other as they walked down the aisle. Nothing unusual, but still, something felt a bit different. Again, I noticed the carts and people moving. They were moving about the store just a little faster than usual. As I made my way to the poultry section of the meat aisle, I noticed more empty shelves. There were many empty shelves where red meat used to sit. My walk through the aisles began to slow, and it all started to feel a little strange. Surreal. I walked through a few more aisles and finally made my way to the front of the store. The first register that caught my attention only had one customer unloading groceries. I took my cart and lined up behind the couple. That surreal feeling rolled around again, but it wasn’t quite the same. It no longer seemed like people rushing around the store, now it felt like panic. Maybe I should not have gone shopping today; maybe I should have planned an early morning stop, but it was too late now. I was there and almost ready to check out. Once in line, I looked around once more and being here now made me feel uncomfortable. I felt like a spectator of some strange movie scene.
“Hi, how are you today?” asked the cashier in a most upbeat tone.
“I’m good, thanks.” I shared in the same upbeat tone, while working to block out the world and be present for the moment.
“So… are you panic shopping or regular shopping?” he asked, looking up at me with a jovial grin.
“Uhh… No, I’m just regular shopping.” I said, cracking up into a much needed laugh.
As he nodded, he glanced over to the customer behind me, and announced, “They’re panic shopping.”
Stacked in the cart behind me were three large crates of water bottles. Nothing else. We both busted into laughter. He continued to talk up a storm, cracking jokes and telling stories, much like a young person should. I listened and laughed.
This young man brought a little sunshine to my strange grocery store experience. I realized that it didn’t take much. I didn’t take much to change the scene and bring something good into the space.
I wonder what would happen if we all made an effort to bring a little sunshine into every space we enter.