Sunday, February 12, 2012

Going Bananas and Getting a Blessing

Last Sunday I was humbled by seven bananas!

After church last Sunday, Kayla and I ran by the grocery store to pick up some bananas. Tyler, my son, was sick at home with Tanya, and we needed to keep his diet very bland. We needed bananas. No big deal...or so I thought.

So, we went to the produce section, picked out about seven good looking bananas, and headed to check out. As I was visually trying to determine the best checkout line to enter I reach in my back pocket for my wallet and stop! Great! No wallet!

If there was a day that I would forget my wallet, it would be on a Sunday! I usually get dressed right before leaving for church and many times forget my wallet on my bathroom sink. Most of the time I forget my wallet, however, I would realize it before even getting to the store.

What was I supposed to do now?

I look around to see if there is anyone I know that I could ask to borrow some money. No one! And that was weird, because I always see someone I know at this store...and especially right after church on Sunday! Ahh! Now what?

As I walk back toward produce I think to myself with Kayla a little confused, "Do I put the bananas back, go home, drop off Kayla, and come back?" I'd hate to do that!

I stop for a second to consider other options. An open checkout line comes available. The checker comes to the end of the isle, looks at me (bananas in hand), does the little eyebrow thing that asks without words, "Are you ready to checkout, sir?" I decline his offer shaking my head and think to myself, "No...I'm the idiot who left his wallet at home and is standing here like a moron with some bananas in one hand and a daughter holding the other asking me what we are doing!"

I tell Kayla that I forgot my wallet and I'm trying to figure out what we can do.

At that point, I considered asking a complete stranger! It was a crazy thought as I lingered on it for a second scanning the isles looking for prospects. Fragile, white-haired, church-suit guy with tons of stuff in his basket? No. Too long of a wait. And when would I ask him? After he started checking? Pass.

Larger, middle-aged, barely-making-it lady buying a lot of food in regular clothes? Pass.

Last option: Younger, 30ish-mother, buying cupcakes in the speedy checkout lane? Okay.

I begin to go toward that checkout lane again and think, "What am I doing? I'm about to ask a complete stranger to buy some bananas? Ahh! What? Am I going to get her number and send her a check for one dollar of bananas? Do I ask her for her address?"

I stop after a couple of steps. "This is too much! I'm just going to put these bananas back, go home, and come back."

Then, on my way back to the produce area AGAIN, a new perspective crosses my bald head brain. I consider it for a second, turn around, and continue my thoughts having decided what I need to do. No more flinching!

I get to the speedy checkout lane behind this younger, dark-haired lady who is now on the phone. "Great! Do I interrupt her?" Before I have time to chicken out another guy gets in line behind me. "Oh, man! Now I'm committed!"

I look toward the back of this lady's head, lean my head over to the side with my eyebrows raised trying to make eye contact. I wanted to get her attention without saying anything. No luck. Without touching her I say, "Excuse me, mam?" She turns to me with her phone still to her ear, takes a quick glance at my awesomely beautiful redhead holding my hand, and non-verbally gives me permission to continue.

With a weird "I'm an idiot!" smirk on my face, I reached into my empty back pocket and said, "I know this is going to sound weird, but I forgot my wallet at home. And..." I paused for about a half second to take a breath and hold up my seven bananas. "...I was wondering if you would buy my bananas for me."


The several seconds of her silent processing time seemed like four hours of humiliating torture! I lower my bananas a little. Then she says somewhat confidently as she hangs up her phone, "Sure! Throw 'em up there with my stuff. No problem!"

I put them on "the conveyor belt of shame" right on the divider thing that separates one shopper's stuff from another's. She turns to talk to Kayla a little as she waits for her turn. I'm at a loss for words. I muster up a quick yet audible, "Thank you so much! I feel weird!" She soon turns her back to me as she attends to getting out her wallet to pay for her things (and my bananas!).

"Where do I stand?" I thought. "Do I go around to the front where the bag people do their thing?" No. "Do I bag her few groceries for her as a sign of my appreciation?" way! That would make it worse for all parties involved.

Right then the checker finished ringing up all her things, leaving my bananas straddled on the divider. He looks at this lady and asks her, "This is where your stuff ends, right?"

"Are you kidding me!?" I think. "Why do you have to make this torture worse than it needs to be? Did you hear me ask this lady a few moments earlier to buy my bananas? Certainly everyone in the entire store heard this CRAZY MAN ask a complete stranger to buy his bananas! And, just in case someone missed it, you had to ask her to clarify for the masses my incompetence again!? Thanks, dude!"

I contained all those feelings as I looked at the floor.

She told the guy that she was paying for my bananas. He rang them up and gave her the total; she paid and started gathering her stuff. No one touched the paid-for bananas. I waited until she had cleared everything before I reached over the counter to take the grocery bag containing my seven bananas.

This whole time, I'm wondering what is the appropriate thing to say at the end of all this. A simple, "thanks" came to mind. So did an "I appreciate your generosity." Those seemed weird in the moment and superficial. The only thing I settled on was, "the Lord bless you."

I wanted to convey the Lord's involvement somehow, without being all crazy about it. My mind considered the times that I'd heard that from others. It came from mainly strangers that I'd decided to help out in various ways. I always dismissed it as some kind of unnecessary formality. I would tell them what this lady told me after I said it: "Oh it was no big deal."

This experience has many chapters of lessons that I will share for a while. These lessons started as I went to the car. I told Kayla that she just witnessed how God blesses people through others. I communicated to her that this lady displayed the heart of Jesus in a small, yet powerful way! "Her gracious generosity," I told her, "is a loud testimony to our abundantly good God!"

Have you ever been in a position to experience God's generosity, even in a small $1.07 way?

1 comment:

Michael said...

I love the phrase "the conveyor belt of shame". Priceless