Bits of Happiness

An unexpected epiphany in a big-box store.

Christine, the checker at Wal-Mart, chatted happily with the customer in front of me. Since they both appeared to be in their early 60s, I assumed they were friends. The woman left, and Christine turned to me with a big smile.

“Good evening!”

I was shocked — usually Wal-Mart checkers are surly at best. I couldn’t figure out how she could be so cheery, stuck inside a soulless mega mart all day.

“It’s all the Lord’s grace,” she answered. “If I was left to myself, I’d be a terrible grump.”

We chatted as she rang up my seemingly endless supply of groceries. She glanced at my toddler, clutching a cantaloupe that was bigger than his head, and at my swollen belly. She asked about my pregnancy, and I told her I was due in two weeks, with another boy. She said boys are the best. She’d raised three herself. We talked about how much harder girls are, and how we are glad to be the mothers of sons.

As I left, she turned to the next customer in line and greeted him with the same cheer she had shown me.

I pushed my overflowing cart out of the store, and I noticed how pretty the sky looked, painted tangerine and lavender by the sunset.

As I drove home, I sang along to the radio, not even minding that my son was fussing in his car seat.

The road home is mostly highway; car dealerships and billboards are usually the most remarkable things we pass. But tonight, I noticed the 10-foot forsythia hedge growing by a stoplight. The plants had been allowed to grow and bloom: Instead of being clipped into the boxy hedges favored by many of my neighbors, the bushes drooped with their blooms trailing to the ground. It was beautiful.

I passed a house and noticed a freshly-painted white picket fence behind a stand of red tulips.

And right before arriving home, I looked past the red light and saw a weeping cherry tree blooming next to a Japanese magnolia. The two, blooming in tandem, nearly took my breath away.

Article © 2007 by Stacey Duck