The Grouchy Greeter, My New Friend

Here’s what happened when I went to the grocery store during these trying coronavirus times.

I went to the grocery store because I could.  The store was still open. It still had things that I needed.  Frankly, I just needed to get out of the house for a while. Be assured, I followed the social distancing, hand washing, don’t touch my face, etc. rules.  

And off I went.  I was first greeted by the grouchy greeter.  He’s an older gentleman about as tall as me, sporting a short-cropped gray beard.  He wore a comfortable jacket to ward off the cold air creeping into the store with the customers. The cap he had on was pulled down so that there was just a narrow slit through which to view the shoppers in need of a friendly greeting.  This is the guy that often is looking the other way when I come into the store. Or, if I do catch his eye, I’ll get what looks to me as the what-are-you-doing-here look.  Thus, the grouchy greeter.  

I walked past him and grabbed a cart.  I only needed a few things, but a cart would make things easier, even though the handle of which is the breeding ground for every variety of nasty germ known to humankind.  Not to worry since I spied the grouchy greeter with his spray bottle of disinfectant and roll of paper towel. Now, I had a decision to make. Just take my chances with the cart handle that has been who-knows-where or face disdain by asking for a squirt. What would it be plague or scorn?  In a split second, I figured plague would take longer to get over and scorn, well, I just kept repeating “sticks and stones, sticks and stones…”

With two fingers, I grabbed the pestiferous handle of the cart and casually walked it over to the greeter.  He looked at me like I was looking to make trouble. I tried to look like I was the friendliest guy around. A bit of a stretch for me, since sometimes I feel like I could be a grouchy greeter myself.  As I approached he peaked over his wire rims and arched his eyebrows. He waited for me to speak. I waited for him to speak. He was the one with the disinfectant and paper towels, after all. A standoff.

Parking the cart in front of him, I removed my two fingers from the handle and wiped them on my jeans.  I took a deep breath, I searched for his eyes peeking underneath his cap and looked at him and said, “Could I have a little spray?”

“Sure,” he said.

While he sprayed and wiped, I commented, with a smile I might add, “Most important job of the day, eh?”

He grinned and replied with some comment about his job.  But he grinned! I guess it really didn’t matter what he said.  He smiled. And that made me smile as I launched my search, germ-free, for my daily bread.

It’s ironic isn’t it, that because of this COVID-19 virus and the social distancing, that people are being kept apart.  Yet for one brief moment at the entrance to a grocery store, because of a grocery cart handle that needed to be disinfected, two guys could each come to the understanding that, “Hey, you’re not as grouchy as I thought!”

Perceptions shattered and a moment that made me smile…  Today’s gift.

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