Another’s Shoes

It’s the Christmas season. It’s also the Christmas shopping season. Wow, I went to Target this afternoon. Not the most pleasant experience- I survived mostly by shopping in the food section. Not a whole lot of gift shopping in the frozen meatless patty aisle. Much less competition. Everything goes well, except I forgot a couple of items. No problem, I’ll stop at CVS on the way home.

Okay, so maybe I had some stale coffee this morning. Maybe it was the mid morning two hour teeth scraping, (I have two teeth that need to be watched. I’m not watching, but somebody is!) In any case, it is possible that my morning had set my teeth on edge. Ha!

I only had to purchase two items at CVS, NyQuil and chewing gum (is there gum that isn’t chewed?). Three items may require a list, four items definitely require a list. I was good with two items.

I like purchasing items that do not require further choices. I like to order Rubens for lunch. True, I like the tasty sandwich, but I like the lack of further choices. It’s rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island. If the restaurant starts to ask questions like sourdough?, mayo?, ketchup?, Velvetta? and bison burger?… well, just run away. This is all to say that NyQuil is no longer safe. There appeared to be five choices of NyQuil and none of them said ‘original’. I did the best I could.

The chewing gum was right at the counter, easy in, easy out. I stepped up to grab four packs and then placed them on the counter. Immediately I felt a tap on the shoulder, “Excuse me, there is a line!”. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know!”,so I stepped to the next counter where the customer was having items packed up.

Then I looked around, realizing that there was no line. Perhaps the woman had created one, but there was no one behind her. At least I hadn’t been a complete idiot. If I saw her, I probably thought she was looking at some of the “point of purchase” displays. No big deal, she was getting her stuff checked, and I was in the next line, waiting for the bagging to finish.

That’s when I looked up and caught the eyes of the young man who was checking out the woman. He was looking at me with apologetic eyes. I’m not sure what that is, but when you see it, you know what it is. So then I focused on what the women was saying. I probably could hear the first part, but I wasn’t paying attention. Now that the clerk and I had a silent connection, I could hear the rest of the woman’s comment. She was talking about me, and how I had the gall to cut in front of her.

I was dumbfounded. I suppose I thought the apology was sufficient. Apparently not so, I was still a topic that she had to work through. So what was it? Male dominance? White privilege? Thuggish? Just plain crude Christmas shopping behavior? After all I had just been to Target. Too many categories that overlapped.

I was so confused that I didn’t notice that she had left, and the young clerk had motioned me back to his counter. I carefully checked to see if I was cutting, but no one was there. I looked at him, and he said, “Some people have an attitude…”

Trying to find a reason that made sense, I went through some of the various possibilities. I didn’t know what it was like to be a woman, I didn’t know what it was like to be black, I didn’t know what it was like to be a single mom (if she was?)… I didn’t know anything about walking in her shoes.

But that is also the point. No one really knows another’s experience.

Ha, I’m old, confused, I have bad eyesight, and my feet hurt. My early life was filled with beatings because of how I looked, my army years were punctuated by being spit on in airports, my professional life was marked by not being qualified for the jobs that I had. But none of that is known by those standing in line at CVS. And, would it matter if it was?

My rant this afternoon is to make a choice to be kinder. We don’t know the whole story to anything, even our own lives. Forgive yourself, forgive each other. Do it for the season, learn to extend it all year.

You can wear someone else’s shoes, but it does mean they will fit, nor will they walk the same path.