Henry and I started off Saturday morning on the earlier side. After enjoying our breakfast, bed head, and an A.M. workout, we decided to spend the day running a few errands and meandering out and about town. One of stops included a visit to our favorite ice cream shop downtown and with the weather being so sunny, this plan seemed perfect. It had been a few months since we treated ourselves to our favorite creamy delight.
This ice cream shop is one of those little places that still has the old school charm that was surely present when it first opened decades ago. The ice cream is exceptionally creamy and we just won't settle for anything else in town. In fact, we had a few tubs of the good stuff catered at our wedding to serve with cake.
When we arrived, I was not surprised to see a large crowd of customers waiting in a line that went beyond the entrance. With such popularity, this is pretty common for the little shop. As Henry and I waited our turn to order, I observed the different crowds of people around us. I chuckled at the table of young high-schoolers dressed in their rented tuxedos and flashy evening wear all texting so pensively-- their start to a memorable formal dance, I was sure. When I heard an elderly man repeat that he wanted an "Orange Freeze" to his buddy wearing matching pleated khakis and a plaid hat, it made me smile to see a glimpse of their friendship. There were lots of other interesting characters in the small ice cream shop, but between those two observations and my indecisiveness between flavor choices, I didn't focus on much else.
After about ten minutes, we finally found ourselves near the cashier and with just one customer ahead of us. I turned to Henry and told him what I was getting...and then changed my mind about three times (so typical). During our little banter about Lemon Custard and Bailey's Irish Cream flavors, I noticed three little children in front of me. They weren't quite tall enough to look over the counter, but they leaned over and looked intently at the interaction between the cashier and who appeared to be their older sister. They all had a look of anxiety and a little disappointment. I shifted my sight over to register and saw that the young lady buying them ice cream was attempting to pay her entire bill in coins. I listened to the clinking of coins, mostly nickels and dimes, hit the surface of the counter. The young lady was counting aloud to the clerk and I could hear the nervousness in her voice. Her total was $9.90 and so far she was only at about $6.00. While I turned to my husband, I also caught a glimpse of the long line of people behind us-- some heads turning to see what the hold up was all about. I heard the muttering of some unkind words and the tone of impatience from customers around us. In that moment, my immediate thought was, "Oh boy, this will be awhile", but as soon as I caught it in my head, I stopped myself. The way I saw it, I had two choices: 1)Be impatient and irritated. OR 2)Be patient and show some love.
I ended up going with option number 2. It's funny how God uses your and puts in you places to show his love at exactly the right time someone else needs it. As soon as I chose that route, I overheard the cashier explain to her that she needed 40 cents more. The young lady muttered some words and desperately began searching in her purse before releasing a heavy sigh and admitting she didn't have anymore change. I leaned in, took out my wallet, and told her I would cover it. The look of astonishment, gratitude, and relief on her face, and the three children, was worth far more than 40 cents.
The ice cream date continued on and Henry and I finished off our yummy treat. The girl and children left and carried on wherever they were heading. The day continued on comfortably and joyfully.
When I think about my choice in the ice cream shop with this girl, I reflect on how it compares to how I would have acted at a different time in my life. Would I have been just as impatient as the other customers? Sure. I've been there. Yes, I agree that it was an inconvenience for her to keep everyone waiting. And, remember, my initially reaction was not very pleasant. However, although the roots of my personality have been consistent through the years and even months, I sometimes feel like I am hardly the person I used to be.
When I stop feeling like I am so entitled and in a rush to get on with my day, I gain more opportunities to see the beauty, blessings, and grace that exists. It's easy to feel entitled-- I live in America. Everything's about us. This is MY parking spot. MY right of way on the road. MY spot in line. MY time that someone else is wasting (well, yes...some people do waste our time for sure, but this post isn't about them). In reality, nothing really is ours. Yes, we have rights and without taking charge of things, we wouldn't be very productive. However, I have been trying to consciously remember that it's not about ME.
Although it was such a quick and moment, this little incident at the ice cream shop really helped me see the beauty in letting go of this idea of entitlement. Sure, if I didn't make that choice or step in, it would have been awful that the little kids, who waited for so long, couldn't have their ice cream. However, I think the worst that could have happened would be that I would have continued feeling annoyed for maybe a few minutes and continued on my day like nothing happened. I would have ignored a perfect opportunity that was placed in my path at that very moment to be a better person worth knowing. And, isn't that what life should be about? Living your days to be someone you are proud of and worth knowing? Not just for your talents or status, but for your ability to show love to everyone even in the most difficult of times.