Standing in line

A local hardware store was having a bag sale last night. I receive their promotional emails, so I was vaguely aware of the event, but it wasn’t on the top of my head. I don’t enjoy shopping for the sake of shopping and I wasn’t out looking for bargains. However, I had a project at home that I was working on and I discovered that the bolts I had were 1/2 inch too short to complete my project. I hopped in the car and headed to the hardware store. I remembered the bag sale when I couldn’t find an open space in the parking lot. I briefly considered going to another store, but walking is good for me and so I just parked in the lot of another store and walked over to the hardware store. It was obvious that their promotion was a big success. The store was packed with customers. They are serving food and beverages and folks were enjoying talking with each other. Every aisle was crowded with people and I had to be patient to make my way to the bins of bolts. I counted out the bolts I needed and headed to the check out area.

Then I followed the line of people waiting to check out. It wandered around the store. Back by the back wall of the store, I found the end of the line. Once again I thought about giving up, returning the bolts to the bin and going to another store. However, I’d come this far, so I took my place in line. Having nothing more important to do, I settled into waiting and watching the people around me. There were several different techniques being employed by those in line.

Ahead of me was a couple who had gotten a shopping cart and joined the line as soon as they got to the store. The cart was empty, but they took turns going out and obtaining items while the other partner kept their place in line. By the time they got to the checkout area the cart was full. Also ahead of me was a couple who might have been in their eighties or even older. He was struggling with all of the standing and leaned on the cart for support. She was trying to help him. At one point, she went and brought back a snack for him. Her devotion and concern for him was touching. Behind me was a woman who was rather loudly complaining about the long line while talking on her cell phone. She seemed to be a lot less happy than some of the rest of us. I thought about offering that i would trade places in line with her, but I didn’t want to offend the others who were patiently waiting.

Rapid City being the size of town we are, I saw several of my friends as I waited in line, and chatted briefly with them as the line slowly moved forward. One friend commented that I chose the wrong evening to make a quick trip to pick up a handful of bolts. I replied that I didn’t know I needed them until that particular evening.

I hadn’t eaten my dinner at this point in the evening and all of the food, and especially the smell of the popcorn machine, was making me hungry. The line snaked between two counters with snacks on its way to the cash registers. I noticed that other customers were checking out the snacks and more than a few made impulse purchases from the snacks for sale even though there were free snacks offered in the store as part of the promotion. I resisted the temptation.

The clerks at the cash registers were efficient and soon I had paid and was on my way across the parking lot to my car. I noticed several cars driving around and around looking for a place to park. I’m pretty sure they could have saved time by parking and walking like I did, but they seemed unwilling to walk. Perhaps one of them had a condition that made walking difficult. I gave thanks for the ability to walk. It feels good to me to walk. I enjoy it. A couple of blocks isn’t a problem for me. I resolved to make it a practice to leave a few parking places close to the entrance to the store every time I need to use that parking lot. I know that there are special places reserved for those with disabilities, but some others may not enjoy walking as much as I do, so I’ll leave a few spaces for them.

Because the trip to the hardware store had taken a half hour longer than I expected and because I was the cook for our dinner last night, our dinner was delayed by a half hour or so. As I cooked, I told my wife stories about waiting in line at the hardware store. So I not only got a bit of bonus time to watch people, which I enjoy, I got some stories to tell - even a topic for my journal this morning.

I suspect that the hardware store owners are feeling pretty good about their promotion this morning. It certainly appeared to be a success to me when I was there last night. I’m not the kind of person who is attracted to those kinds of sales, yet they got a little bit of business out of me and they got a lot of business from some of the customers who were filling their carts. Perhaps there was a bit of early Christmas shopping going on.

So much in this life is colored by your attitude. If you want to complain, you can find things to complain about. If you enjoy community, there are plenty of offers of community. If you like being with people who are different from you, there are occasions that give you what you like. And, if like me, you like a surprise from time to time, you learn to take what life gives you and enjoy the unexpected turn of events.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!