By Jean Marie Johnson
What in the world can a bag of Lay’s potato chips have to do with the corona virus, or more particularly, with kindness?
Given my husband’s prolonged illness, I have recently taken to doing the weekly food shopping. As we each typically eat three meals a day at home, it’s a pretty big load. That, however, isn’t the issue. The “issue,” is me. I prefer to do most things with efficiency and focus, food shopping being one of them. But yesterday, I had to face the annoying truth that my pedal to the metal MO wasn’t working. There is no zooming through the aisles when you don’t know where things are except in the most general sense. Well, when I finally found what looked like the vast “snack section,” I thought I’d be able to home right in, grab a big bag of Lay’s and cross it off the list. That didn’t happen. I noticed an employee and approached her.
“Can you tell me where the potato chips are?”
“Next aisle over.”
A fellow shopper who was strolling just ahead of me had overheard the exchange. When I got to the next aisle, he was standing there, holding the bag of chips.
“Here. There was only one bag left so I grabbed it for you.”
He smiled, said “You bet,” and moved on.
“Hey Jean Marie, what are you doing here?” It was my neighbors, R and M, fellow walkers and fellow animal lovers.
“I’m doing the food shopping these days and it’s like being in an alternative universe. I can’t find anything.”
“Those chips aren’t for you, are they? You don’t eat stuff like that.”
“The hell I don’t. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ll get back on track when this is all over. For now, this bag is mine.”
Later, an elderly couple paused and smiled.
“Those are some nice pants you have on, a bright spot.”
He was referring to my crazy, neon patterned yoga pants.
By my account, it took me far too long to get through that shopping trip, but the unexpected interactions and the kindness continued.
I could go on and on about the kindheartedness of my neighbors…
H, who is there for me in two seconds’ time when I need anything from the proverbial cup of sugar, to the receptivity of an open mind, and the comfort of a non-judgmental heart.
A, who has fed me more times than I can count and rescued me with early morning coffee whenever the power goes out and I am desperate for caffeine.
M and D, a dynamic duo who can solve almost any problem with creativity and frugality, and fix absolutely anything in the house.
And that’s not counting the many glasses of wine, the conversations and laughter we’ve shared.
These people matter, and I hope that my generosity of spirit, time, and all of the rest comes at least close to theirs.
But strangers matter, too. And when we are all on lock down, venturing out to forage for scarce necessities while we are social distancing, we can call on what’s best in us – wanting nothing in return – and extend a small kindness to someone who is in the same boat.