“I’m never coming here on a Sunday again!” An older woman said to me as she made her way to her car in the Shoprite parking lot. I was getting a cart and being the courteous gal that I am, I acknowledged her and said ‘Oh, is it crowded in there?”
“It’s terrible! A man accused me of hitting him with my cart! I was nowhere near him, but he wouldn’t let up. He followed me through the entire store.” She angrily replied.
“That sounds like harassment!” I indulged her as I pulled my cart away from the others.
“I know,” she continued. “And this is the anniversary of my brother’s death. I’ve lost three siblings and my mother. I’ve been in the hospital 18 times this year and just got out after 3 months; I haven’t worked in 3 years…I really need to get out of this expensive state too.”
That was a lot to take in. I should have walked away after her first comment, but now I was committed to this conversation. “That’s awful, do you have health insurance?”
“No, I have Medicare – I’ve lived here my whole life and I need to get out. I worked day and night for years in the ER at the hospital and this is the thanks I get! All that work for this?” She was so frustrated with the cards she’s been dealt.
“Doesn’t sound fair.” I replied as I helped her with the package of water she was struggling with.
She asked me my name and I asked her hers. Her name was Carol.
Carol vented some more about her hospital stays and acknowledged how lucky she was to at least have a car.
I tried to interject that I understood how the hospitals are, but my attempt was futile. She interrupted to tell me the details of her mom’s full-frontal stroke from an eye surgery.
“Well I have all that food in the car, and I want to stop and get some McNuggets for lunch.” Carol flashed me a big smile as she walked away.
That conversation lasted between 5 and 10 minutes. Listening to her verbally release all that weighed on her was easy, I had no skin in the game. She was not a loved one that I felt the need to rescue, she was just a lady in the parking lot looking for someone to hear her out.
I don’t know if Carol is one of those people that complain 24/7 or if she’s just going through a rough patch and needed to vent. The fact is, it didn’t matter to me. After our paths crossed, she walked away with a smile and I walked away feeling like I helped her just by listening. It cost me nothing!
Everyone has a story to tell and sometimes all we need is someone to listen to it. I hope Carol realizes all her blessings. She lost so much, she’s in pain, but she still has a lot. Sometimes all our focus goes to losses and we miss out on all that we still have. Carol had a car, was able to shop by herself, enjoyed McNuggets, still has a sister, and had a good friend help pay for new tires. All these blessings were brought up in the conversation, but they were not the focus. I hope now that Carol got to clear her thoughts that she sees all the blessings. We all suffer loss, the key is to honor the loss, but move forward putting focus and attention on the blessings.
Tell me this: What blessings are you overlooking?