“The End is Nigh!” the man shouted.
“Is there still time for hot chocolate?” Riley asked.
The-End-is-Nigh guy blinked. “Ah, maybe, I don’t know.”
― Jana Oliver, Forbidden
The shouting was coming from a small man checking out at the grocery store. Nick and I stepped into the line as the cashier handed him his change. I don’t know what he thought was wrong, but he was quite unhappy and yelled at her. She calmly tried to show him his receipt, but he wouldn’t have it. He yelled again and shook his finger and stormed off.
I saw the cashier’s defeated look as she turned around to the next customer, and I smiled at her and loudly said, “Good morning!” She smiled as did the next customer. Nick and I had a small shopping cart full of items, including athletic tape and garbage bags. The current customer had a Snapple and a Butterfinger. I saw her glance at the screen as the cashier scanned the two items, which totaled just over $3.00.
The woman asked, “How much was the candy bar?” The cashier told her, and she said, “Can you take that off, and I’ll just get the Snapple?” My heart sank. The woman pulled out her card and swiped it and then walked out the door with her drink.
“Hand me the candy bar,” I said to the cashier. I ran out the door and called to Nick to pay for our stuff with cash from my wallet. The woman was approaching her car as I ran up behind her. I was worried that I might frighten her, so I waited until she’d turned to open her door. “Here,” I said, and I handed her the Butterfinger. “Thank you,” she said.
I walked back into the store. “That was nice of you,” the cashier said with a smile. Nick was puzzled. He’d missed what had happened, and he asked if the woman had forgotten something. “No,” I whispered. “She didn’t have enough money to pay for the candy bar.”
“I was born not knowing
and have had only a little time
to change that here and there.”
― Richard Feynman
“Mom,” Ari called from the back seat. “Did you know the Andromeda Galaxy is going to crash into the Milky Way Galaxy in a few billion years, and then we’ll all be dead?”
“Yes,” I said, “but I think we’ll be dead before that happens.”
“How many earths can fit inside the sun, Mom?”
“I don’t know, but I bet the internet can tell us.”
“Do you know how many suns can fit inside Betelgeuse?”
“No, I don’t know that either.”
“SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING:
Smoking Causes Lung Cancer,
Heart Disease, Emphysema,
and May Complicate Pregnancy”
I stood looking at the wall of beer wondering which kind to get. I texted Nick and asked him if he wanted porter or brown ale, and then I grabbed the porter because I figured he might not check his phone. As I walked up to the front of the convenience store, I heard an angry voice.
The man was propping open the glass door with his body, waving his arms, and yelling. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but it sounded like he was mad about a gas pump. The cashier apologized, and the man let the door swing shut.
The button on the cashier’s shirt said, “Ask me about our cigarette specials.” I put my porter on the counter. “So, if I ask you what your cigarette specials are, what do you have to tell me?” He recited the special for two packs, and the cashier next to him told me the special for three packs. “I don’t smoke,” I said, “but I figure you have to wear that button and you probably go the entire day without anyone asking you.” The cashier chuckled. A man approached the counter and asked the other cashier for a pack of Marlboros. “See,” I said, “he’s someone who needs to know the cigarette specials.” I walked out as both cashiers laughed.
“We only have to look at ourselves
to see how intelligent life might develop
into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”
― Stephen Hawking
We have such a short time on this earth. In four billion years, the Andromeda Galaxy will crash into the Milky Way Galaxy. All of us will be dust by then and nothing we did today will survive or be remembered.
In that short time, we choose how we treat others. We can be the angry, self-righteous customer, or we can be the cashier with the smile. We can be the person who rearranges the shopping carts when we return ours or the diner who loudly complains about the slow service while we wait for our meal.
Smile, leave a bigger tip, hold the door, tell a joke, compliment someone’s shoes, say thank you.
We’re all going to die anyway, so be nice while you still can.