Working in retail, I get the privilege of talking to and meeting so many people in all different walks of life. While most people are “just another customer” and blend in with everybody else, there are a few people who stick out and remind me of all the benefits of working with people and how God can take the smallest moments in life and turn them into something you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
It was around noon, near the end of my very early shift, and my eyes had started to get heavy, my muscles were aching and I had 3 very grumpy customers earlier that day who had not made my day any easier to get through. While I was serving yet another grumpy customer, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a short women with blonde, curly hair and glasses and right away I recognized her as being one of my former teachers from middle school about 8 years ago. I wasn’t sure if she recognized me or even remotely knew who I was and since I don’t especially love awkward moments (but who does?) I decided to play it casual and just treat her like a normal customer, “May I help you?” I said.
“No, I’m just looking thanks” she replied in a very confident yet quite voice.
I had already decided after that moment that I wasn’t going to address her or ask if she remembered me because it seemed obvious that she didn’t. Just as she was about the walk away, this small voice in the back of my head said to me “talk to her”. I usually don’t act on impulse, in fact I’m almost ‘too safe’ with my actions and think everything through very carefully but for some reason I listened to this voice.
“Are you… are you Miss Brown by chance?” I said to her (her real name is not Miss Brown, but has been changed for privacy reasons). She smiled shyly which confirmed that it was in fact, her.
“Yes, I am.” She replied “I thought I recognized you and then I looked at your name tag and realized who you were. You’re Danielle Mowat right?” We continued talking for a few minutes about work and school until I asked her if she was still teaching at the same school that she taught me. She began to explain to me that she had been in a very bad car accident a few years ago and it left her unable to teach. I immediately began to sympathize for her and told her how sorry I was that this had happened to her.
“That’s too bad…” I began to say, “I really enjoyed you as a teacher. You were really fun.” And then the unbelievable happened… she started to cry. She was trying so hard to hold everything back but I could see the tears building up in her eyes which caused them to start to build up in mine as well.
“Oh my gosh I’m so sorry” She apologized, “I can’t believe I’m crying in public…Today has just been really hard and I haven’t been having a good day. I really needed to hear that and I so glad that you said that to me. Thanks so much Danielle, you really made my day.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I never thought that my casual, sympathetic words towards her would have such a huge impact but they did, so much so that they made her cry in public. As she walked away I began to think about how I almost didn’t even say hi to her… I almost just treated her like just another customer and I never would have made her day. It was the smallest of conversations that felt like it meant nothing, but to her it meant everything. This experience was a huge reminder to me how God is ALWAYS near you, even in the smallest of moments. He takes small, everyday things that happen to us and makes such amazing and wonderful things happen from them. After this happened I kept thinking about all the times I had this same voice in my head to say something or do something for somebody and I never did it. I kept wondering about all the things that could have happened if I always listened to this voice when it appeared to me. If you’re reading this today and there was something you were going to do or say to somebody but you never did, this is the sign that you should do it. Who knows… you might make your old teacher cry in the middle of a grocery store like I did, and it’ll be the most rewarding thing that’s happened to you all day.