Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Joe Fox and Engage

I wrote this back in December but never finished it. The lesson I learned that day has stuck with me and it was time to finish it and share it with you.

Today I stood in line at a bookstore and witnessed a scene that made me sad. Actually it made me mad. Really mad.

I had popped into the bookstore to grab a couple of magazines to read during an upcoming road trip. I noticed there was a line to the cashiers and hoped it would dwindle by the time I was ready to check out. As it turns out, the line had not only not dwindled it had in fact gotten longer. I took my place in the queue and perused the impulse items. I noticed that the line was incredibly quiet and no one seemed to be engaging in any small talk. (As you remember from my 50k race, I like to indulge in the small talk now and then.) My wait was a little over five minutes before I reached the cashiers and was third in line.
It was then that a woman caught my attention, really all of our attentions. She was voicing her frustration that a busy bookstore with more than enough employees to wander around (and apparently bothering her) asking if she needed help couldn't seem to get a clue that maybe they should put some of those employees on more registers. She really laid into the guy while simultaneously saying it wasn't his fault but the manager's and also that this was the only bookstore in town so she had to shop there. She turned to the woman next to her and apologized saying it just had to be said. The cashier muttered a few things to her but that did not appease her. I believe she huffed out of the store but I don't really know as I think I might have momentarily passed out from anger, shock and disbelief that that really just happened. 
My mind reeled with what to do with the whole thing. Indeed, there was a line and we all were witness to the whole scene and the tension was thick. I could crack a joke but what would I say? Should I sing? We all know the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear. All it would take would be one zinger and we would all feel better and have put her in her place. Or something. As it turned out, I ended up being checked out by the same guy and I didn't say much. I was as kind as I could be, said thank you and gave him a smile. He was obviously still upset. I had planned on grabbing a coffee on the way out and decided he needed one as well. I told the woman serving me that whatever the cashier liked to drink I would buy for him. They had heard the whole thing also. I told them that no one ever should be treated like that and that if you are going to go shopping on December 23 you should expect to stand in lines. They said I was the best customer of the day and I said I wasn't.
I told the world via Facebook how it should be. But even that has made me sad. I spent the rest of the afternoon fuming and thinking about the whole thing and a few things finally came to mind.
For one, I really, really wish I had spoke directly to that cashier about the situation or at least said something more. I have been under scrutiny with an audience before and it is a hot feeling to have yourself be laid open like that. You desperately want out but what would help in the meantime is to know that someone is on your side. I can't speak for the other people in line, but I did not feel the same way as that woman. By not speaking directly to him, I feel like I conveyed I was on Team Impatient.
Secondly, I wish, wish, wish I had thought of how to diffuse the situation in the middle of it. I wish I had Joe Foxed it today. 

While this scene isn't directly related, its what played over in my mind while thinking through today. And what I mean by Joe Foxed it (my own made up term) is I wish I could have engaged the woman right there. It took me a good couple of hours to come up with what I wish I would have done, which was to start talking to that woman about what she was buying and whom the book was for and other such non-confrontational conversations. 

Engage seems to be one of the words being impressed upon me for this year. At first I thought that it would mean to seek out new relationships and get all up in them. But right now, over a month into 2015 and longer since this bookstore scene, God has shown me a little differently. I'm leaving my definition of engage a little more open and allowing Him to guide me through. 


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