Avocados, two jalopenos, gift card. Avocados, two jalopenos, gift card.
The list was running through my head like a song on repeat. I didn’t have time to forget anything today. No time at all. I felt like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, “No time to say hello, goodbye. I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” I walked into Harps, trying to gain control over my squinting eyes, to get the groceries that I needed. Avocados, two jalopenos, gift card. Three different items.
I raced through the store without really looking around me, collected my items, all three things in my basket and accounted for, plus one extra. I quickly took my items to the check out, avoiding one aisle because the elderly woman in that line was in one of those electric wheel chairs, and again, I didn’t have time for that. I check my items, and somehow, the woman in the electric wheel chair was done and had parked her little wheel chair by the exit. She was gathering up her groceries as a young man, probably in his mid-twenties walked in.
He was wearing faded blue jeans and a bright red t-shirt that said something Hogs related on it. He was wearing a red bandana and biker boots. The stereotyper that lives deep inside me wanted to count him as another one of “those kind of men.” The kind that party too much and ride their loud motorcycles at all hours of the night. This man made the stereotyper inside me shut up.
“Can I help you take these to your car,” the young man asked the elderly woman. Her white hair looked as if she was close to needing her next salon appointment, and a flicker of distrust flashed in her eyes. He smiled at her and glanced in my direction.
I had stopped in my tracks. I wanted to see this man help her with her groceries. I quietly followed as he took her groceries to her car and put them in the back seat for her. She thanked him, and as he turned away he said “Try to stay cool, ma’am.”
Ma’am. I love that part of living in the South. My heart smiled. So did my face.
After the shooting in Colorado, I have had a very difficult time trying to convince myself that we as human beings are any better than the animals. We have more intelligence and have made ourselves better, sure. We have also equipped ourselves to be more destructive. Guns keep getting bigger, bombs can cover more area, and people just seem to be a little bit more self-interested.
It’s not my place to discuss gun control or a lack of it. I don’t have the background knowledge necessary for that. It is, however, my job to comment on the human condition. As a writer, I have made that task my goal. I people watch because I want to understand, and I write and include people in my writing because I am trying to make sense of this world and this thing called humanity.
You may be thinking that I have lost it. You’ve never murdered or stolen or raped or molested. I know. Those things are horrible and it hurts me to know that there are people out there who get away with those actions. But at the same time, aren’t we all guilty of caring less about people we don’t know? Or just caring less in general. I’m guilty of it, too. I was in so much of a hurry this morning that I could have missed this whole scene. In my own self-interest, I could have hurried past without a second glance.
I thought that we as humans had little hope after what that man did in Colorado. Now, I realize that it isn’t that bad is winning over good. Good is everywhere. A young man helping a woman carry her groceries to her car; a little brother squeezing tight his big sister in a hug; a couple holding hands as they walk through the store.
Good is out there. It just doesn’t bang as loudly.