Last Saturday, Michael and I went to IKEA to buy a futon for the basement. The basement is becoming a second living space and sleeping room for Michael. He's got our old TV set up down there along with his desk and computer. We had an old couch down there that he was sleeping on, but it reached the end of it's comfort ability. I suggested replacing it with a futon because it's a couch, it's a bed, it's a couch! And yes, we live at IKEA okay. Jeeze, get over it. Any way, we get in a check out line with our flat bed cart and then I peek around the people in front of us to see what's holding up the line. There is a woman at the checkout counter with two flat bed carts and one full (like Walmart on a Friday full) shopping cart. I convinced Michael to slide on over to the line next to us.
As we stood in our new line, I watched the show of getting this woman's stuff checked out. Her face looked so haggard and embarrassed at the chaos she was creating. We made it through checkout just as the woman and her teenage daughter were attempting to get their carts towards the exit doors. The mother was trying to push one of the flat bed carts with one hand while pulling the full cart. Her teenage daughter was behind, doing her best to maneuver the second flat bed cart. I don't know if you have any experience with pushing IKEA carts, but those things require skills. The wheels are designed to roll in any direction. If you are pushing a full cart, you are using all of your core muscles and arm strength to steer that cart in a forward motion that will not send you careening off into a display of vardagens, shattering them into a million pieces. Maneuvering two carts at once is suicide.
Michael managed to swerve our cart around the woman and her daughter and make his way to the exit. I was following behind with nothing in my hand except a plant (that Josephine has already pulled out of the planter, by the way. I cannot have houseplants). I looked at the woman trying to push a cart while pulling a cart and I said "Can I help you push one of these carts? All I have is this plant." The look on her face was one of suspicion, but she agreed. We followed Michael to the elevators and he corralled us all on to the platform so we could make it all in one elevator trip. On the way down to the parking garage the woman told us that they had driven three hours to come to the store today and that one of her friends had requested some items. The woman said that she'd had no idea it was going to be so much stuff. She shook her head at her carts and looked slightly embarrassed. Michael and I shrugged off her embarrassment and reassured her that it could easily happen to anyone. We always go in to that store for one thing and then leave with a whole new bedroom.
The elevator doors opened to the parking garage and I continued to push the woman's cart over to her car, which was parked very close to where we had exited. When we all got to her car, she looked at me, placed her hands together and said "Thank you so much for your kindness." Her words were so genuine and the look in her eyes was of such gratitude. I replied "it was no problem." and I went to catch up with Michael. After we had loaded our stuff in the truck and Michael was pulling out of our parking space, I said "You know, I was really helping everyone when I was helping that woman." Michael nodded and said "Oh, I know. You were thinking globally and acting locally." That woman and her three carts were in the process of creating quite the traffic jam for those exiting the building, but also I could see the frustration on this woman's face. I could see her struggle and I recognized how easily I could be in her place.
I am guilty of taking on more than I can chew more often than I can count. I will carry all of the grocery bags into the house in one trip as if I am a pack mule. Asking for help is not an option, but that doesn't mean I would not accept help if offered. Well...I might hesitate slightly at the offer, but eventually accept it. The description of 'pack mule' does not only apply to my ability/determination of carrying all of the things. I think that many of us can relate to this, that it is slightly easier to just accept help being offered than it is to ask for it out right. It feels nice to be the one offering and giving help and it was such a simple thing to do. It reminded me that the gift of gratitude is very powerful. Every week, I end this post by saying that I am grateful for you. I am grateful to those of you who read these posts without judgment. I do not ask you to read or follow this blog, but you do. So... thank you so much for your kindness.