One of my favorite things about our new house is its close proximity to the best Publix in town. It’s less than a mile away – probably less than a half mile away. Despite the great location, our shelves have been pretty bare since we moved into our house two weeks ago. I finally headed off to the store around 7:30pm last night.
When it came time to check out, I noticed the man bagging my groceries. I had seen him there before. He always smiled at me with a huge grin on his face – the type of smile that I couldn’t figure out whether to call it friendly or creepy. So I would usually just look away and keep walking.
But last night, there he stood, bagging my groceries.
He asked me, “Am I loading these too heavy for you?”
I responded, “No, it’s okay, I’ll get my husband to carry them in for me.”
Simple enough. Then the cashier pointed out to me that the coupon I had put on the conveyor belt didn’t match the item I had purchased. Gah. I hate when that happens. I asked her if I could exchange it. She sighed, obviously annoyed by my mistake, despite the fact that there were no customers behind me in line. But the guy bagging my groceries looked up at me and said, “Don’t you worry. Take your time.”
Simple words, but I appreciated his kindness.
After I had paid for my groceries, he offered to help me take my groceries out to my car. I accepted his offer. On the way out, he complimented my frugal shopping, saying how impressed he was at the amount of groceries I had bought for the price I paid.
He loaded the bags of groceries into my trunk and reminded me, “Now you know what you have to do when you get home, right? You honk that horn and let your husband come out and carry these for you.”
I smiled. “Don’t worry, I know.”
There was just something about him. Something genuine. Something caring. Something kind.
Nothing he did or said was earth-shattering. It was simple kindness. I asked him his name – his nametag had flipped over behind his Publix apron.
He grinned at me, flipped over his nametag and said, “I’m G.I. Joe.” Sure enough, his nametag read “Joe”. I opened my mouth to thank him for his military service, but before I could get the words out, he said,
“That’s ’God-Issued’, not ‘Government-Issued.’”
I grinned back at him, loving the play on words. I said goodnight and got into my car to drive away. But as I sat there with the keys in the ignition, I thought about those words. I thought about the smile on my face because of his kindness. Yes, I truly feel Joe was “God-Issued” to bag my groceries last night.
Because you see, what Joe didn’t know is that my husband lost his job last week. Joe didn’t know that right before I left the house to go grocery shopping, my husband and I had a serious talk about a very uncertain future. Joe didn’t know the weight on my heart.
All Joe knew is that he had been “God-Issued.” And he lived that way. Though his kindness, through his smile.
What if we all lived that way? What if we lived every day like we were “God-Issued”? What if we believed that each encounter has been put in our path to bring a little kindness into a hurting heart?
Because we may never know the weight on the heart of the person behind us in line at the grocery store. We may not see the pain behind the eyes of our frustrated co-worker. We may never know the impact that our kindness or our smile may have on the life of another.
Today, I’m going to live like I’ve been “God-Issued” – what about you?