From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Shoppers of All Sorts

My community, preparing for Christmas



I've seen a lot of shoppers during the past several weeks, and they've been both naughty and nice.

One of the naughty ones was in our store today -- a fellow in his upper 60s. He explained to me that our price on a certain item was ridiculous. The more he talked, the more irritated he became, and he began to spit a little as he spoke. To avoid agitating him more, I just said, "Yes, yes, that's right, that's right." Finally he ran out of steam and wandered away.

Of course, it's not naughty to have opinions about prices. However, ranting about them to an employee who has no decision-making authority is self-indulgent, to say the least.

Other naughty shoppers, in my opinion as a retail store employee:

  • parents who let their kids run wild
  • people who deliberately make a mess as they pass through
  • people who buy huge piles of merchandise and then return it all the next day


Fairly often, a shopper seems stressed. I can tell that they want their transaction with me to be brief. They are civil, but barely so. I try to hurry so they can get on with their lives. I don't know if I'm the cause of their mental anguish or if they have other problems.

On the other end of the spectrum, some shoppers want to talk. One lady today told me all about her cat bothering the Christmas tree. She shakes a plastic bag at him to scare him away from it. She laughed, just thinking about it.

A man who was waiting for his wife told me about his hip and leg problems. They had spent the night at their daughter's house and the waterbed had thrown him out of kilter. He truly did look like he was in pain.

Another fellow, waiting for his wife, told me about the mobile home his son is remodeling. The son is getting married soon. He's already bought a new side-by-side refrigerator and range, and he had to remove some of the cabinets to fit the new appliances into his kitchen.

Sometimes, there are unexpected glimpses of sweetness. A white-haired petite lady confided in me that she's looking for a extra-soft blanket that she can lay over her husband when he goes to sleep in his chair.

Earlier this week, I waited on a grandma who was doing all her Christmas shopping that day. Her granddaughter, a young lady in her early 20s, was with her. They had come from another town, and the granddaughter was doing the driving and carrying the packages. They both seemed to be enjoying their day.

Today, a dad and his grown-up daughter were in the store together, shopping for the mom. The daughter was there to provide suggestions and expertise, I guess. Dad had trouble with his PIN number and his card was rejected. He had to get it back out of his wallet and swipe it again, but he remembered his PIN that time, and the daughter joked him out of feeling cranky.

One man this week, a man younger than me, told me that his wife has terminal cancer and probably won't be here for Christmas. I promised I'd pray for her, and I am. May God have mercy. May God give comfort.

God bless us, every one.

Good reading: The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.