Those who know me well are aware of my love of walking. I don’t drive often, unless necessary, which makes my neighborhood the perfect fit for me. I am walking distance to grocery stores, Starbucks, shops, and most importantly (specifically), Trader Joes.
Yesterday in the 97 degree heat, I decided to walk to Trader Joes to grab the ingredients I needed for a vegan, gluten-free pumpkin casserole. Sure, it was hot, but I realized that it’s a whole lot easier to stroll a couple of blocks in the sun when you don’t have two enormous grocery bags weighing you down.
While shopping, I was on the phone with a friend who I confided in about some feelings I’ve had this week. These feelings are really rooted in trust issues, which have been especially triggered and put to the test during this season of life.
“I’m just having a hard time putting my trust in those around me.” , I told my friend. “I have felt so disappointed and unimpressed by people. Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE people, but through my personal experiences recently and what’s going on in our world, it’s just incredibly disappointing.”
This call ended somewhat abruptly, as it was time for me to get in the checkout line and prepare for the sweltering journey home. The cashier looked at my two large jugs of water as I put them into my crinkled reusable bag.
“They’ll weigh the bag down. You should carry them separately.” , he said, offering his bagging expertise.
“Thank you, but I have to put them in there. I won’t be able to hold them since I’m walking home.” , I responded.
His once drowsy eyes suddenly widened and sobered, as if an alarm clock just went off and woke him. As this happened, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. The kind woman behind me, probably my mother’s age, was wearing high-wasted mom jeans and a very pink floral blouse. She joined in our apparently intriguing check-out line conversation.
“Excuse me, miss.” , she said, “I was just admiring that darling dress of yours when I overheard you saying you walked here. Why don’t I give you a ride home?”
While my mind would normally be filled with fears like, “don’t take candy from strangers”, or automatic stubborn rejection, I felt relieved. I felt connected. With a smile, I accepted Stephanie’s offer.
Upon arriving at her very fitting SUV, I was greeted by her husband, Blake, who asked no questions and simply loaded my groceries into the trunk and insisted that I take the shotgun seat. Their mutt-like lab, Mr. Freckles, sat behind me, offering sniffs and kisses every couple of seconds.
In less than two minutes, we pulled up to my apartment complex where we said our final goodbyes, and immense thank-you’s on my end. Before I left, Stephanie warned me to never give my phone number to the cashier at Trader Joes, and told me she was sure he’d try for it next time. With a truly blessed grin and a heart overflowing with gratitude, I said, “Stephanie, you have given me wisdom, relationship advice, and a ride home, all for free. What a fantastic Friday.”
The truth is, she gave me much more than that. Stephanie impressed me. She restored my trust in humans. She refreshed my hope in others. It was all a gift.