I stood in line at the drugstore. It wasn’t much of a line. An older woman was in front of me. Her husband stood off to the side. She was quite put together for a Saturday morning. One could tell at a glance she had both her health and the means to have all her needs met.
She showed the young college-aged clerk a coupon. The clerk was professional, courteous, and respectful. She explained the coupon was actually an online coupon and for the woman to utilize the coupon she would have needed to enter the code when she’d made her purchase online.
I found the clerk’s explanation cordial and satisfactory.
The older woman did not.
“Well that’s a bunch of crap!” she shouted. I sucked in air. The young clerk looked frightened for a moment and then regained her composure. The older woman made the rest of her transaction with the clerk painful and uncomfortable for all of us.
It had been a rough twenty-four hours, and I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with Chicken Little who thought the sky was falling because her $3 coupon wouldn’t work at the cash register. I shot her a look that may or may not have resembled Miss Hannigan looking at an orphan in the musical, “Annie.” Even the woman’s husband was obviously mortified by her reaction as he slowly inched himself to the door.
The angry old woman theatrically grabbed her bag and huffed as she exited.
I immediately smiled and greeted the clerk and she couldn’t have been more pleasant. I next complimented her on her demeanor and composure in the presence of someone who was obviously so disgruntled and displayed such juvenile behavior. She thanked me for the compliment and took a deep breath.
I continued, “You know, it was all I could do not to chime in when that woman started her little spiel. Yesterday morning my husband went to work and thirty minutes later he came home because his job was eliminated.”
The clerk expressed how sorry she was, I expressed my thanks, and assured her, eventually, it would all be OK.
But I couldn’t get the older woman out of my mind. I wish now I’d just gotten in my wallet, handed her $3, and told her her coupon wasn’t really that big of a deal in life.
My husband’s job was eliminated. Gone. Done. Without any warning. I’ll admit, just twenty-five hours after it had happened, I was still reeling–certainly not my best self. To say I’m worried about insurance is an understatement because while we all need insurance, my family has a situation which makes insurance particularly important to us.
Paralysis doesn’t end. A friend of mine was burying her husband that coming Tuesday. A friend’s child is battling a life-threatening illness. I’ll stop there, Dear Reader. You get the point. I didn’t have to think too hard to come up with life situations which were a bit more upsetting than not being able to use a $3 coupon.
As a person who is frequently around young people, I am tired of them being belittled. That day in the drug store the 20 year old clerk was the grown up and the 60 or 70 year old woman was the child. I believe the majority of young people are doing an amazing job at living and working and breathing in a world where the supposed adults and leaders often times behave immaturely and ridiculously.
Could my biggest problem in life today be that I couldn’t use a $3 coupon? And you know, if that woman had suddenly laughed and said, “I’m so sorry. That was really dumb of me. It’s just a coupon and you don’t deserve for me to treat you like that,” I totally, without any hesitation, would have offered her the grace card, because who among us hasn’t made a mountain out of a molehill?
But nope. She just proceeded with her huffy, angry, wounded exit.
And as always it made me want to dig in. I’m well past age 40. And I resolve, once again, to finish life strong; I’m doing my best to remain positive in truly tough situations, and well, acknowledging that not being able to use a $3 coupon isn’t really “crap” at all. Let’s go, older adults! We are all teaching younger people lessons. Let’s do our best to try to teach them who they want to be and not who they don’t want to be. Our future and theirs depend on it.
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.