I remembered as we pulled into Dothan for a day trip that I needed one more gift for a dear friend. I knew just what I wanted to get but it would require a trip to Target. If you’ve been to Dothan you know how unfriendly the Ross Clark Circle can be. Too much traffic, too few lanes. But, needing this gift, we held our breath and headed toward the Target shopping center.
Traffic was even worse than I’d imagined, the whole parking lot practically standing still, barely moving. We decided to park in the first parking place we could find and just walk the length of the outdoor plaza to the store we needed. We parked at one end, Target was literally at the other. And it was cold. No mind, I thought, I’ll just walk quickly and warm myself up with physical activity. Kind of a mini workout. Not going to let all the little frustrations spoil my happy mood.
So I set off.
My family was with me, but as we walked I left them behind. Each one stopping and entering a different store that seemed more appealing to them than Target. I was in it for the long hall, Target on my radar. The folks around me were friendly enough, but clearly not in a hurry. Did these people have all day?? I had somewhere to be, so I weaved in and out of the people traffic trying my best to keep the Christmas cheer. Smiling and giving the polite head nod when appropriate.
Finally, I breezed through the Target doors. Reached for a cart, there were no more. No mind, I’m sure someone left one in the store somewhere. Still keeping the Christmas spirit bubbling inside of me, I head for the back with purpose and hope to find exactly what I needed and be on my way.
Weaving through a sea of people with my newly discovered abandoned cart proved harder than I thought and I felt like I was getting trapped between other shoppers more than I was moving forward. But, finally, I made it to the section I had in mind. So happy to finally be there I searched diligently for the gift I wanted to buy, but they were out. Of course, I thought to myself. The Christmas cheer was slowly draining and I could feel the frustration rising.
After looking for several minutes that I didn’t feel I had to spare, I found another gift that I felt good about and headed to the front. The register lines were backed up four and five loaded carts deep but, thankfully, there were at least twenty registers open. I jumped in line and began to assess which of the other lines was moving quicker. After about five minutes I “line hopped” to the one I thought would help me to accomplish my goal of being done quicker. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
After waiting a while and slowly inching forward, I was finally next in line. I could practically taste freedom. Only one older couple in front of me and they didn’t have too much stuff to pay for. I had successfully navigated this sea of peril and was about to escape unharmed and successful in my quest.
It was then that I heard those dreaded words.
“Ma’am, would you like to open a Target debit card account?” Really?!! I stood completely still waiting for the answer. All I could think was, please, not today. I mean with what seemed like thousands of customers in line, why would you open up an account? Definitely not the best day for it. This line had been moving so fast and I was next.
“Why, yes, I would love to open one.” Doomed. Just doomed. People behind me who could hear started leaving the line for other faster ones. I just stood there with all my stuff already on the conveyer belt and quietly seethed. The lady operating the register started the process and finally looked back at me and apologized for the inconvenience.
Apology not accepted.
I don’t even know how long we stood there, them laughing and processing the card and me right behind them looking like the angry old woman that I was. So much for Christmas cheer, so much for happy thoughts. Who cares if the place smelled like fresh brewed coffee, who cares if there were lights and happy music was playing. All of these people were in my way.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, the card was finished, and I wasn’t even happy she was saving five percent. I stepped up and the girl at the register could feel my frustration, she squeaked out “Merry Christmas.” I responded but never made eye contact. It took under three minutes to ring up my items and I navigated my way out of the store and started the long walk back to my car.
I was fussing to myself about the whole ordeal, feeling perfectly justified in my behavior. That’s when I heard it, the small voice of the Lord. “Sandi, do you think if you went back in there right now and talked to that young lady behind the register about me, she would listen to you? Would you have any credibility after the way you acted?” I nearly stopped in my tracks. (I probably would’ve, but the sea of people might’ve trampled me.) Not what I wanted to hear. I was immediately convicted. “No, Lord, she probably wouldn’t take me very seriously after the way I acted. Just another person who says one thing and does another.”
It wasn’t worth it. What was I trying to prove anyway? That I was in a hurry? Everyone was.
I wish I could’ve relived those last several minutes and done things differently.
I wish I would’ve turned around right then and gone back to apologize.
Honestly I still don’t think offering credit and debit cards on a busy day like yesterday was a great idea, but she was just doing her job. I was being selfish.
So, today, I am thankful for second chances.
I learned a tough lesson about what was in my heart when I was stretched and pushed. It wasn’t pretty. But it gave me the chance to tell the Lord I was sorry and I plan to be a lot less bratty next time I am in the store. I want to be able to leave and say Merry Christmas, Jesus loves you and not be ashamed of my behavior. I want my behavior to match my words.
Merry Christmas today! I’m going to live like I mean it!!