There was a line in the supermarket, and the cashier was working as fast as she could to scan through the giant pile that would become my family’s meals for the week. I stood at the end of the checkout lane, funneling bottles of juice and yogurts into bags.
In minutes, we were done. The bill was paid, and we’d started to roll the cart away when the cashier called out, “Thanks for packing!”
I didn’t need to be thanked. I’d worked as a cashier myself years ago. I’d been on the receiving end of the kindness of the customers who pitched in to keep things moving … and been the flustered cashier trying to move things along while customers stood, hands folded across their chests, sighing loudly over how SLOW things were moving and how they had places to be.
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As we wheeled the cart out of the store, I realized what needed to be said wasn’t a thank you to me but an explanation to my 10-year-old. She needs to know why it is that I always lend a hand in the grocery store checkout line.
She needs to know why it is that we pile up our plates at restaurants, to make life just a little bit easier for the bus person.
She needs to know why it is that we hold doors for people on the way into a store … and the way out.
She needs to know why it is that sometimes we let someone jump ahead of us in line at the library or the bank.
She needs to know why it is that we pick up the garbage we see lying on the sidewalk.
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She needs to know why it is that her dad volunteers to coach soccer and her mom donates free photo sessions as raffle prizes.
She needs to know why we say thank you to men (and women) in uniform.
She needs to know why we stand up and give our seat away to a pregnant woman.
She needs to know all of these things so that she can do them too.
But maybe even more importantly … she needs to see us do them over and over and over again.
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