humans behaving beautifully, kindness

Sweet & Salty; An exchange at the grocery store

It seems like love is at the root of all happiness. But it has to be real love. Mother Theresa love, not love of fame, wealth and power or that sort of thing. The kind of love that takes down your guard and exposes your heart also gives the greatest returns. It’s like an emotional cleanse. There are people that go through life that way. I had the good fortune to meet such a man several years ago at a Save On Foods.

He was in his thirties and had a basketball belly out of proportion to the rest of his lean frame. Big chocolate brown eyes looked calmly out from a broad, handsome face. When he started to talk, everyone recognized he had a mental challenge. He took note of the pretzel snack the young man in a suit ahead of him was buying and started sharing how he had tried that particular snack once and had been terribly disappointed. It was too salty.

Instead of being offended, the young businessman smiled back and agreed that yes, it was a bit salty but then again, he liked that sort of thing. Incredulous, the handsome man then turned to an angry looking youth with a large nose ring and two sleeves of violent tattoos in the next lineup, and asked if he had ever tried the snack. The one with the pretzels he added, pointing at the snack, compelling the young businessman to pick it up so the youth could see it better.

The angry youth looked a bit startled, but pulled himself together and said, yes, he had in fact tried the snack before. That one. The one with the pretzels.

“And did you find it salty?” asked the handsome man.

‘Yes,” he said. “They are really salty.”

Satisfied the handsome man nodded and then pointed to his three purchases…a sandwich from the deli, an over-sized chocolate bar and a clear plastic tub of pastel-colored candy-coated sugar balls.

“I like sweet,” he said, adding with a huge smile, “This is my lunch. I work from eight to four and I get an hour off for lunch.”

The business man, the angry looking youth, the lady behind me and myself, all nodded and smiled at him. None of us were condescending about it. We were happy. Happy he had a job, happy he had a lunch he was obviously looking forward to, happy he could make people in the lineup forget their troubles or what kind of hurry they were in.

When it was his turn to step up to the till he pulled out his debit card with a flourish and then produced a second card from which he carefully read his pin number as he punched it in.

“Is it approved?” he asked and we all held our breath until the cashier said yes.

He waved goodbye to the youth, held up the bag of sandwiches and sweets and winked. The youth grinned back at him, all anger erased from his face leaving him looking twelve years younger. So about six.

I looked around and everyone was smiling. I don’t want to sound all cornball about it, but it was clear we all had dropped our guards and – for now – let our human love run loose.

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