The young couple ahead of me had already caught my attention even before we reached the checkout line. They were both very large, and he was wearing an orange reflective vest. In fact, I had almost mistaken him for a No Frills employee; fortunately I realized in time that he wasn't, so I didn't embarrass us both by asking him to help me get a box of Shreddies off a high shelf.
When I got to the checkout, the two of them were negotiating with the cashier; they'd brought a flyer from another store which supposedly had cheaper bacon, and they were trying to get the lower price. The cashier pointed out that the ad they were referring to was for a different-sized package, hence the cheaper cost, so they weren't entitled to any discount. I was a little irritated and wondered why they hadn't made sure beforehand that they had the right information rather than wasting everyone's time.
I promptly forgot all about them, though -- until we went to Extend-a-Family's Christmas bazaar the following Saturday. I was wandering around looking at the various booths with crafts and baking. I stopped at a table with homemade jewelery: dozens of pairs of inexpensive bead earrings -- no two sets the same -- all spread out across the table in tiny plastic bags. And there, behind the table, placidly knitting, was the same young woman I'd seen at the grocery store only a few days earlier.
"These are nice," I said. "Do you make them?"
"My son does," she said, motioning toward the small boy who sat slightly behind her, engrossed in a book. "He's eight, and he has Asperger's. It's his business and he does it all himself."
We talked for another minute or two; I don't remember anything else specific that she said, but I do remember how matter-of-fact she was about her son's situation, how laid-back and comfortable she seemed, and especially how proud she was of her son and his work.
I liked the earrings, so I bought three pairs. When I put one pair on this past Sunday before church, I thought of her again. You know that cliche, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression"? In this case I was the one who got the second chance. First time round, I dismissed her impatiently. But next time I saw her as a proud mom who was helping and supporting her son ... and I admired her.
For a previous "Checkout-line encounter" post, click here. You never know: this may be a series in the making!