Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bummed by a Baggie

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1).

I shrugged into my bargain, down-filled coat and slid into the car. “You might want to zip up and pull on your gloves; It’s cold out here.” My sister, Carolyn, drummed her fingers on the steering wheel as I buckled my passenger seatbelt, “The bank's on the other side of the street. We'll get it on the way back.”

I hate returning merchandise anywhere but I really feel funny taking anything back at a Dollar Store, of all places. But I didn’t need 3-gallon baggies. I needed dog biscuits. I would just have to go and make the exchange.

I stepped over to the counter. “Excuse me. I’d like to make a return.”

“Yeah. Uh--these baggies are the wrong size. I wanted small ones, but there weren’t any.” In fact, I thought they were the small ones when I bought them. It had been an impulse buy. I definitely needed the biscuits more badly.

The cashier gave me a measured look over the top of her glasses. She reluctantly held out her hand to take the unwanted merchandise. I handed it over, quick to dispense of my burden.

“Do you want the small size?”

“Uh, no. Jus..no, not t’day, thanks.”

“We do have the small size,” She peered at me over her glasses again.

“Uh, nooo, well, okay, maybe.”

I could see the cashier's lip curl. She locked her register to get a small box - one I didn't want.

I made a quick run to the dog treat section. Maybe I’d have enough to buy both, depending on the price of the small baggies.

She arrived with the smaller box. “There are others to choose from--”

“No, no, no. These are fine.”

“I’ll have to do it over here,” she gestured to a second register and turned away. “I’ll be right with you” she mouthed to the next customer. She made it clear who she felt was the real customer. I bit my lip.

The clerk tapped in some numbers then handed me a receipt to fill out with my contact details.

“Do you want this, too?”

“No, no, I just want those.” I replied.


I jumped at impatient tone of her voice. Did she think I was a cheeky five-year-old buying chewing gum with pennies or something?

“Just those—uh, the…”

“Do you want the baggies?”

“Yes. That’s all I want.” I narrowed my eyes.

She thrust my change back at me, “Why are you so grouchy?” I challenged, but only my sister heard. Or maybe the clerk did, too. I don't really know.

I shoved the bill into my pocket, then promptly forgot it.

“If you need some more money to buy the dog treats, I can give it to you,” Carolyn offered.

“No, I have to learn to live within my budget.” I snapped.

My sister headed for the door, but I didn't follow. "What are you waiting for?"

"The rest of my change." I crossed my arms.

“She gave you the right change."

How could that be right when I saw only six pennies in my hand? I continued to stare at the clerk.

A customer kindly pointed to my coat pocket, "Dear, you put it there." I reached in and found it.

A perfectly terrible end to a bad transaction. The clerk never once acknowledged me in this twist of fate.

God, why???

I had twenty minutes to sit at the deli at the grocery store next door and ponder this situation (after all, there is no charge to sit down). I felt embarrassed and angry. God, she was so rude. I didn’t even want those baggies.

Go and apologize to her.
I could feel God nudging me as I sat there. Me? Could I do that? I wasn’t the one who had become demeaning. Could I humble myself? I tried to imagine the scenario. She would think I was a lunatic. “Amy, just go and do it!” I wrestled with my conscience.

I will never know what God had planned for this situation because I am sorry to say that I didn’t return or apologize. I could have joked with her, and turned the situation around, perhaps cheered her up. When will I put my pride aside to let God work through me?

That night in my daily Bible reading, I came across Proverbs 15:1. Could God be any more pointed? Forgive me, God. Teach me to obey you only and always at your promptings.

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