Manataka American Indian Council











Peace in a Checkout Line

by Kim Summermoon Wilson

I’m sure most people can relate to being “stuck” in a checkout line at a supermarket, waiting for the person in front of you to complete a transaction so you can go next. Well, I was in that situation recently. With the holiday season upon us, however, Great Mystery saw fit to use this opportunity to teach me how my demeanor impacts others. 

Four people were behind me, other than the lady in front of me - who seemed completely unaware that others were waiting their turn to check out. Most people start to bag their own orders, quickly pay for them, and repack their shopping carts. None of this activity was taking place - everything sat still while she reviewed her receipt, looked at her items and haggled with the cashier. At other times, I might have gotten impatient, shown my annoyance in many ways, quietly fumed inside, or listened to other customers as they complained to me. I’m a quiet person, so ‘complaining loudly’ really isn’t my style. But I’ll seethe on the inside, which is just as bad - our moods still filter through to those around us, and contribute to the overall atmosphere (positive or negative).

But this time, things went differently, and I felt truly calm and peaceful inside. I made room on the conveyor belt for the people behind me, and chatted with them quietly to defuse the situation with a bit of light-hearted humor. Then they also chatted about other things, and stopped noticing the lengthy delay, even as the line grew longer. 

Then it was my turn to check out. I wished the others a good day - and they wished me a good day also, and said, “And thank you for being so pleasant!” So a discussion on pleasantries ensued. (In a city like mine, this is remarkable.)

As I left the supermarket, it occurred to me that the situation could have gone much differently. Had I gone with ill-tempered feelings, a bad situation could have developed. Everyone’s day could have soured, and nothing good comes out of it. 

I was surprised by their gratitude for a few simple words from me, but in the future, maybe a good response could be, “Life is short - be kind to each other.” 

We walk the Earth for a short time. Each day Creator gives us a gift to be used for His purposes, that we give thanks for. We can ask Great Mystery each morning upon rising for the Wisdom to use His gifts well, and not to waste what we have been given. We can devote ourselves to frequent prayer, fasting and reflection - daily, if possible. Something I learned from my experience was to take every opportunity to spread the Peace within me, and to share and to give whenever possible - even when delayed in a checkout line.


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