I pride myself on always trying to do the right thing. I teach this concept daily to my children through my words and actions. I explain to them, and I know first hand, that doing the right thing is not always the same as doing the easy thing, the fast thing or even the thing I most want to do. But, when I do the right thing, I always recognize that I’ve done so and it always makes me feel good about myself for living responsibly and for helping others.
The Pan Man: My 50-yard stare with glazed-over eyes and a pained look of confusion gave me away as I hopelessly searched the rows and rows of tin pans towering almost to the ceiling. 9×9, 9×9, 9×9… nope. I searched each shelf’s labels but could not find it. HOW could BJ’s Warehouse NOT have a classic 9×9 aluminum baking pan right before Thanksgiving? Still, I stood there, feet glued to that spot, staring at thousands of pans… in disbelief! Then, as though magic fairy dust drifted down upon me, the Pan Man appeared. An elderly gentleman with a quiet and soothing voice stopped in front of me and sighed. Lost in his own dilemma, he happened to look up from his list and recognize me in mine.
With a smile he said, “Want to trade? I’ll help you find what you’re looking for and you can help me find what I’m looking for!”
“Deal!”, I said, “What are you looking for?”
“Sugar” he said.
“Other side of the store”, I indicated pointing, “A few aisles back. Halfway down the aisle marked “Baking Needs'”
“Great. Thanks.” He said with a smile. “And you?”
“I need 15 9×9 aluminum baking pans for my Brownie Troop.” I sighed. “Doesn’t look like they have them here!”
The Pan Man thought for a moment and then said, “If you live nearby, go to Ryan’s on Grand Avenue in Baldwin. They have everything. I’m a cook. That’s where I get all my pans! Inexpensive too!”
We thanked each other for the mutual help we’d offered — though surely he’d have found the sugar on his own while my pans were another story — and I raced off to pay for all the other baking supplies I needed for tomorrow’s Brownie troop meeting so the girls could earn their Make-It/Eat-It badge.
The Cart Girl: I rushed to my car and packed out the goods quickly… replacing the cart neatly in the coral. The parking spot in front of me was clear — I LOVE when that happens — so I put that dirty old mini van (as my Old Soul calls it) in drive and was about to pull through when a lady parked in the spot caddy-corner in front of me rolled her shopping cart into the empty spot right in front of my running vehicle, giving her cart a little extra shove so it nearly kissed my bumper (obviously oblivious that I was in the car). Then she hopped back into her car, threw it into reverse and began to back out of her space. I put my mini-van back into park and got out of my car. The woman looked surprised and then puzzled at what I was doing… I rolled her cart from in front of my car and pushed it a whole 10 steps further to the cart coral, sliding it easily into it’s rightful place. Shaking my head, I shrugged at her and got back into my car. As she sped away I thought I might have embarrassed her and how she might be angry with me for making her feel badly. I thought she might be thinking “what does that woman know about the rush I’m in” OR “doesn’t she have any idea how hard my life has been lately!” Oh, wait a minute… that was ME thinking those thoughts… My thoughts!
Honestly, I don’t know why she didn’t take the 5 extra steps to put the cart away where it belonged. I don’t get people like that. People who act as if what they do on this earth doesn’t impact anyone else… Maybe they don’t care. Or, maybe they just don’t think. But I do! I was likely in as much of a hurry as she was. I’m sure it never occurred to her that 5 more steps on her part, doing what she should have done anyway, might have made my life just a little bit easier. Sure, she didn’t have any idea that the past month of my life was crazy and hard with the boys’ surgeries. But, maybe the last month of her life was crazier and harder than mine. You know, we’re all in this together… aren’t we? So I simply put the cart away for her.
I did go to Ryan’s for the baking pans I needed for the Troop Meeting. They had just the right size for just the right price! So, thanks again to The Pan Man, you’re an angel for helping me and for your willingness to help… despite your own sugar dilemma and/or whatever unknown-to-me challenges you currently have in your life.
And, thanks Cart Girl, for giving me the opportunity to do — and feel good about doing — the right thing… And to consider that, despite my own challenges in life, I can do something for someone else who might be having a worse time of it than me.
Angels come in different forms and teach us all kinds of lessons! Our job is to recognize them for what they are.
It really is all in how you look at it…