A Different Perspective, Sunday edition, Victoria Advocate
Before Covid, my husband and I drove to the grocery store, neither of us in a good mood. He grumped about a person in a parking place taking too long. Halo firmly in place, I reminded him about what Jesus would do. Oh, yeah. One of those days.
We proceeded to the store with The List. After walking the aisles for what seemed like an eternity, The List was checked off, and we stood at the checkout counter. There should be a prize for the completion of buying groceries. Come to think of it, that’s why those little stands are stocked with goodies—all to reward the consumer, only we pay for our impulse buying as well.
As I waited, debit card in hand, while the checker tallied groceries, my mind drifted to the rest of my To Do list for the day. My musings were interrupted when cold liquid pelted my skin and clothes like a hailstorm, and flecks of something sprayed in one eye. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react, but when I did, nothing made sense. Then, belatedly, I realized people were staring.
My husband jumped into action—he’s good about that—and told the checker to stop the conveyer belt. Unfortunately, a large tube of lotion had gotten caught on the edge of the belt. It instantly pressurized then popped—a real splatter-fest. Those plastic screens used to create distance would have been helpful that day.
Then Dave turned to me and said in the same gentle tone he uses with our grandchildren, “Mary Pat, why don’t you go to the bathroom?” It wasn’t really a question, and his kind blue eyes urged me to put one foot in front of the other. In a daze, I followed the direction he gave me. Ducking my head made it easier to ignore the stares.
My reflection in the mirror was hard to fathom. It looked like I’d taken a dip in cake frosting, only it was white lotion trailing down my arm, my shirt, my skirt. It covered one side of my face and spiked my hair. Jolted into action, I grabbed several paper towels and rubbed my arm. Lotion oozed in huge gobs, turning the paper towels into a damp, gooey mess. Starting over with a new bunch, I mopped up as best I could—my face, my blouse, my skirt, my neck.
I may have looked like a shiny wet rat, but I smelled delicious.
While I cleaned up, Dave finished checking out. He, the checker, and sackers cleaned lotion from the station, replacing the groceries that got creamed—pardon the pun. Not content to stay confined, the goo had launched missile-style into another checkout stand. So they wiped down that mess too.
But when an employee came into the bathroom, bragging about the chaos and wiping a minuscule dab of lotion off her scrubs, I forgot all about what Jesus would do. Testy, I made a biting remark. Or two.
From what the Gospels say, Jesus had plenty of reasons to be offended, but he never allowed himself to go there. When he talked about judgment, he said, “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:4)
He made it crystal clear we need to be keeping tabs on our own behavior instead of focusing on others’ mistakes. In other words, we need to be gentle and patient with people because we’re often guilty ourselves.
My biggest takeaway from that humbling experience is to keep my mouth shut when others don’t get it right—because I don’t get it right either.
A deluge of sweet-smelling lotion reminded me.