One of our more mundane — but necessary — tasks is going to the grocery store.
Probably similarly to you, it’s not like we wait with eager anticipation to go to the supermarket. Actually, to the contrary, we don’t look forward to it at all; I mean there’s nothing bad about it. I don’t have horrifying childhood recollections of being trapped in a grocery store overnight, with a recording of “Clean up on aisle 12” playing repeatedly while I am desperately trying to escape through motion-sensitive doors that slam shut repeatedly as I attempt to exit. It’s not like that. It’s just – akin to vacuuming or dusting – a chore. It does beat starving, however, so we do it.
Since COVID kicked in, my wife and I have been good citizens.
We wear masks, socially distance, and to that end, we’ve minimized our shopping excursions. Therefore, instead of every week – as we did before the pandemic – plumping our pantry with pasta, potatoes, and peanuts, and our refrigerator with radishes, ricotta, and raisins, we now grocery shop only twice a month. Furthermore, in the interest of minimizing spread, rather than hitting the aisles in the evening, we go first thing in the morning. As they say, even God isn’t awake yet, but there are fewer customers at that time so it minimizes risk; and it is good to have it completed early in the day.
The hitch in our get-along is that neither my wife nor I are in any way, shape, or form what would be called “morning people.” We’re fortunate that due to the nature of our livelihoods, we don’t even use an alarm to wake up (unless you refer to the “I’m hungry” howl of our cat as an alarm), so rising early and prepping to go grocery hunting doesn’t do a whole lot to put on our happy faces. Yesterday, it was also cold and windy, making the task less pleasant. And, upon arriving at the store, my glasses fogged up due to double-masking.
Bottom line? I wore my cranky pants to the store.
Anyway, I — and my dour disposition — enter the store. I’m greeted through my fog-covered spectacles by what is a fuzzy shape whom I assume to be an employee stocking shelves. He smiles (at least as much as I can see a smile behind his mask and through the condensation on my lenses), “Good morning. Let me know if you need anything.”
I grunt in recognition of his friendliness, and grumble, “No, we’re fine. Thank you,” and proceed through the “Wall of Values,” loading parmesan cheese and tuna into our cart.
In the produce section, I’m searching through the tomatoes, when a worker in that department says, “Wait, I’ve got a whole box of new tomatoes that just arrived. Let me get those for you. They’re fresher.”
“Thank you,” I reply as he shuffles the boxes, putting the newest arrival on the top.
“You’re welcome. If you’re going to have vegetables, they might as well be fresh, right?”
“Can’t argue with you there,” says I. “Damn, he’s pulling me out of my bad mood,” I think. I want to be crabby in the morning and the employees at the store don’t understand that.
With each wave of a worker or shelf-stocker — who are more abundant than other employees at this time of the morning — my mood lifts, culminating when an employee passes me in the cheese section and asks, “Can I get you anything?”
I can’t help myself and playfully reply, “Peace in my lifetime.” It’s a standard response I use when I want to get a chuckle, which it does. Quickly, he retorts, “Aisle five, next to eternal life.”
It was my turn to laugh. Despite my best attempts at remaining a sour puss, I couldn’t do it.
I realized what I already know: Attitude is contagious.
I’ve conducted workshops, seminars, and keynote speeches country-wide on this topic. This column that you’re reading oft-times deals with that very subject. It’s nothing new to me. Yet, there it was, in the flesh, actually happening.
By the time I exited the store (yes, the motion-sensitive doors worked), I was feeling much better; I might go so far as to say I was in a good mood.
What happened? Just some friendly exchanges with a few fellow humans who happened to be willing to play.
Many times, I’m the teacher. This time, between the fat-free plain Greek yogurt and the cottage cheese, I found out I was the student.
(Despite it all, I’m still not looking forward to our next grocery-store trip, but I’ll have a better attitude when I go.)
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker, motivator, and coach as well as the founder of the Facebook group: Intentions • Affirmations • Manifestations. He leads zoom inspirational, practical workshops on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Find out more via his mailing list at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/signup. He will be leading a national series of workshops called “Hacking Your Habits” starting April 6. Find out more at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/HYH