My plans for the evening had gone south.
And since I didn't fancy spending the evening with the three people I share living space with and since I also needed a new can opener, deodorant and a birthday card (in that order) I decided to go to Walmart.
It was only when I pulled into the car park, that it occurred to me I still had my house clothes on. A floral shirt, old jeans and green Christmas socks. What did I look like? But who dresses up to go to Walmart anyway? Oh Lord. I could only hope and pray that :-
a. I wouldn't see anyone in Walmart that I knew.
b. I wouldn't get my photograph secretly taken for "The People of Walmart"
Have you ever seen "The People of Walmart?" If not click here at your own risk. You were warned!
So this had to be a quick trip. Too bad. I wasn't in a hurry to go back home.
I got the first two items, and then went over to the greeting cards. I spent a few moments browsing, when I heard a voice..."My, that's a lot you're carrying there." It was an elderly gentleman. Dressed casually but smart. Perhaps in his mid-seventies.
At first I thought he was talking to someone else, but we were the only ones in the aisle. He didn't look crazy, so I assumed he must be talking to me. But carrying what? I only had two small items in my trolley.
"I was just thinking it looks a little heavy for you to carry"
Was this sarcasm? "What?" Perhaps he was a little crazy.
"Oh..," he said laughing. "...not what's in your basket, I'm talking about what you're carrying on your shoulders. Looks like it's a heavy load".
I was speechless. Was he a mind reader? How did he know I was worrying in Walmart? Was it that obvious? Written on my forehead? I didn't quite know how to respond.
"I was just going to get a coffee .Care to join me?" he said.
I'm not sure why, but I nodded, dropped the card into my trolley, and walked with him to McDonalds. He ordered a coffee. I ordered an orange juice (and a sandwich of high calorific value - yes I'd already had supper, but it was that kind of day.) And before I could get the money out of my wallet, he thrust a twenty dollar bill into the cashiers hand. He paid. I felt a little guilty, but he was quite insistent.
We sat down and there was no awkward silence. We began talking about the weather. Seriously we did. Just weather. For about 15 minutes. The mild winter. The early spring. The gusting winds this evening. Weather. And yet somehow it was the most refreshing conversation I'd had in a long time.
After a while he got up to leave and we shook hands. Then turning he said... "God has only given you two hands, so don't carry any unnecessary bags." Then he added with a chuckle... "Especially now they charge you 5 cents for each bag. You take care now."
And then he was gone.
I went to pay for my items plus one more. Some gum. Then I realized... he didn't buy anything!
So what exactly did he come to Walmart for?
Maybe he was lonely. Maybe he was just a kind old man with money and time to spare. Maybe he felt sorry for me, because I was dressed like one of the "People of Walmart" and looked like a hobo. Maybe he had Alzheimers and forgot what he came for. Or maybe, just maybe, he was heaven sent for such a time as this. I don't know if he was an angel (the jury is still out on that one), but he was most certainly a blessing in disguise.
I hung around for a while to see if he would come back. He didn't.
I know you can always find a bargain in Walmart, but sometimes you can find more that you bargained for. And in keeping with the logo, his advice saved me money and aimed to help me live a better life. And what did it cost me? Nothing. A mere 15 minutes of my time.
Some of the best things in life are free. Like good advice. So I took it and tried to let go of the the issue that's been bothering me. Hakuna Matata.
Of course I will go back to Walmart.With a better wardrobe choice next time. And you can be sure I'll wander up and down the greeting card aisle. Because well, you never know!
Hebrews 13 v 2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it"