She sported a sequined newsboy hat over her gray hair and looked at me with friendly eyes when I complimented her hat. “It’s new!” she replied, lifting her cap to show me bobby pins, “I’m wearing it to cover up my pin-curls!”
“Oh, you’re getting snazzy for a party, eh?!” I guessed.
Neither confirming nor denying, she said mischievously, “Glitter and paint makes a woman what she ain’t!”
Then her turn to check out came, and she turned her attention to paying. I got lost in my own thoughts, until I noticed she seemed unsure of what to do to complete the transaction. The lines at checkout are long this time of year, and I could sense the irritation growing for those behind me, as well as the cashier.
“Just follow what the screen says.” the cashier prompted plainly.
“Oh, um, let me see…can you show me?”
With growing annoyance, the cashier stated again, louder, “Read what the screen here says; it tells you.”
I could see the lady was becoming embarrassed, so I asked if I could see and peered over her shoulder to find the problem. “Oh, you don’t want cash back, right? So press here, ‘No cash back’.”
But her difficulties continued. The cashier came around to adjust the credit machine’s screen and told the lady to enter her pin and press enter, impatient. (I’m sure she’d had a long day.)
With hesitation, the the elderly woman said, “Thank you ladies!” Then she admitted, “I uh, I’m new to all this. My husband died a few months ago, and he would always pay. We were married 59 years! I don’t normally pay, and my daughter’s teaching me how to read.” She forced a brave smile, gathered her belongings, and slowly pushed her cart away.
The cashier’s eyes were wide as she finished my order and muttered about how the holidays are the hardest time to be without a loved one. You never know someone’s story. Sometimes life teaches lessons better than any schoolbook. Patience, even during holiday shopping season, is still a virtue, and that little old lady made everybody within earshot want to be more patient.