Saturday morning is my least favorite day to grocery shop. It always seems there are fewer parking spaces, longer lines, the depletion of advertised specials and accordingly, grumpier customers.  Armed with a mile long shopping list, I quickly found myself wishing I was home with my family, enjoying the day rather than fighting my way through the crowded stores.

And then something interesting happened.  I had a brief encounter with a young man in a grocery store parking lot, that really demonstrated what a difference it makes when one is “faithful in the little things.”  Tall and thin, he couldn’t have been more than 17 years old. It was his job to push the carts back into the store. Not all customers are kind enough to return the carts to the conveniently placed covered return rack and quite a few had left theirs in various places. I watched as this young man set about retrieving them, eventually pushing a very long train over to the cart return. As I pushed my cart into the opposite side of the return rack, he flashed a quick smile and said, “Thank you very much, mam! You have a great day and thanks for shopping with us!”

That’s all he said and yet, in those few words, he said so much more. I was instantly cheered by his kind words. “Thank you…” “have a great day…” This young man was spending a glorious Saturday morning in a grocery store parking lot and he was happy. He didn’t have to say hello, but he did. And what on earth would provoke him to say “thanks for shopping with us?” He wasn’t on camera, no one was recording and yet he made that little extra effort that makes all the difference.  There are good things in store for a young man who exercises those little kindnesses; chances are his employer will be able to trust him in the bigger things, as well.

By virtue of his good example, I went to the next store considerably more cheerful than I had been at the previous store. Determined to make eye contact with other customers, smile and exude friendliness rather than irritation. In the baking supplies aisle, I smiled and said hello as I passed an elderly shopper in thoughtful contemplation of the wide selection of flour. A smile is an invitation; she asked me about the merits of unbleached vs. bleached flour.   In the produce aisle, I met another beautiful elderly lady whom I said hello to while looking at the strawberries…she shared her excitement over the significant savings this week, compared to last week’s much higher prices.  We ended up in the same checkout aisle.  She laughed and joked with the cashier and left a happy customer.  So did I…

How often I’ve missed opportunities to cheer others, to make those little efforts to brighten someone’s day! How often I’ve forgone occasions to compliment someone, to let them know how much I appreciate the little things they’ve done to bring joy to my life.

How I wish I had complimented that young man in the parking lot. I wish I had told him that his infectious good cheer had spread and that his faithfulness in such a small thing as common courtesy, had larger implications.

Something as simple as a smile, a couple kind words…they may seem small to us, but big things can happen when we take care of the little things…

‘Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much…’