Why is it, I’ve often wondered, that I always seem to choose the wrong line in which to wait? It doesn’t seem to matter if the queue is to deposit a check at the bank, to mail a package at the post office, or to check out with my groceries. Invariably, the line I step into is the one with the most obstreperous, time-consuming customer, the slowest teller, the most meticulous postal clerk, or the newest cashier-in-training! It is a wonder, indeed.
It happened again at Fred Meyer’s on a recent Saturday. There were huge crowds in the store, and as I stood in the check-out line, watching the newly trainer cashier carefully scan each item for the customer ahead of me, watching her slowly and deliberately bag each on in turn, I felt myself growing impatient and annoyed. And of course there were clothes along with groceries, which required finding and removing the security tags. And then coupons! Time stretched out endlessly as my quick little trip into Freddie’s grew and grew…until I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.
Turning around, I saw a woman smiling at me, gesturing at the cashier, and I heard her say, “Isn’t this just the greatest blessing?” At first, I thought I had misheard or misunderstood that customer in line directly behind me. A blessing? All I was seeing and experiencing was an annoyance. The woman went on, “You know, this cashier is a lovely person, but she just hasn’t caught on to her job. I sometimes want to tell her, Honey, let me help…how about if I bag the groceries? But if I did that, I would miss out on the blessing she is offering to us.”
Now the stranger had my full attention. “I always seem to choose the wrong line,” I told her. “Sometimes I think I should warn the people who follow me, tell them they’d be better off in another line.” “But”, she said, “then you’d be robbing us all of this blessing. You know, most of us are busy allt he time. Most of us work too hard, too fast. And being forced to slow down for even a few minutes can be a real blessing. This cashier is doing her best and is giving us the gift of time to reflect, to relax, to just stop and wait.”
I was humbled as I realized the stranger behind me was right. Sometimes the best gift is a moment when there is nothing to do but stop and wait. Because sometimes it is in those moments when we feel God’s gentle tap on our shoulder, and we begin to recognize the blessings in our midst.