When I am in a retail outlet, I tend to choose the register being operated by a Black person. When possible, I choose Black men. It’s just my way of being an anti-Karen, of saying, “I trust this Black person to handle a financial transaction.”
One day, having already gone to three dollar stores that were closed, I decided to brave the MegaMart. After what felt like an eternity of wandering around the mammoth store to find what I needed, I approached the cashiers and chose as I usually do. If I had to guess, I would say the young man was about my son’s age between 25 and 30. I noticed his name was Aaron.
When I got in line, I could tell that he was flustered: his cash register had malfunctioned and was refusing to take cash. The woman ahead of me, and the one ahead of her were both paying with cash. Aaron had to call a manager and request help with his register; he was told to limit customers to those making credit card purchases until a better solution was found. That meant Aaron had to ask each person if they were paying with card or cash and then redirect the cash customers. Folks were not exactly thrilled.
I had two separate purchases both with cards. When it was my turn, I tried to converse with Aaron, but he didn’t make eye contact and barely responded.
But, since I’ve never met a stranger, I continued talking to Aaron, hoping to lift his mood. “I sure am grateful you’re working right now!” I told him. “I wouldn’t be able to purchase this stuff without you, so thanks a lot for working on Saturday!” He sort of half-smiled, but I could tell the stress was getting to him.
I had in my purse, as I always do, my business cards which have our church‘s favorite saying on them: you are loved and there’s nothing you can do about it. I give them to people all the time. When I gave it to this young man, I said, “Here, a little reminder for you.” Aaron read it, then looked up at me for the first time, a smile already spreading past his cheeks and into his eyes.
“Wow,” he said. “Wow.”
“Was that something you needed to hear today?” I asked him.
“Yeah, it was,” Aaron said, still looking at me. “It really was.” His expression was so sweet, so vulnerable.
“Could I give you a hug?” I asked. He agreed and so right there in MegaMart, I hugged him. Full disclosure, as theologian Beth Moore once said, “I will mother a fencepost.”
Aaron flashed the card back at me and said, “You are too, you know that? You are too.”
As I started to walk away he said, “Wait can I get you to sign this?” I did and he placed the little card in his vest pocket before turning to the next person in line with a grin on his face.
I heard her greet him saying, “How are you doing today?”
With joy in his voice, Aaron replied, “I’m doing great now!”
It’s rare that you get to see the moment someone remembers they are a beloved child of God; but from my experience with Aaron that day, I can tell you: it looks like the Kingdom of God. It got me wondering: what would the world be like if people lived with a constant awareness of this truth? In the words of Louis Armstrong, “What a wonderful world it would be!“