In the Checkout Line

People waiting in line with shopping baskets at grocery store

My greatest learning of the week came simply; they usually do.

I went to Aldi simply to buy kale and tomato sauce and get back home quickly, so I could make meat sauce before going to work.

And in front of me in the checkout line was a man with down syndrome.

He smiled and waved.  He asked me my name and he introduced himself.  He asked if I wanted a hug or a fist-bump.

The simplicity of this encounter has lingered with me all week.  It was sweet, and it marked me.

This man exposed my desire for efficiency, so that I ignore the stranger around me.

He exposed my guarded-ness of the stranger, and my desire just to keep to myself.

A simple smile helped to break down my walls.

And this came from someone who came to Aldi with a care-giver.  He doesn’t have credentials or titles that the world considers fulfilling.

But he lives his life with the simple belief that a once-stranger can quickly become a friend.

As I was leaving, he giggled and said, “I made a new friend.”

I don’t think that it’s ironic that children and a man with disabilities has made me ponder how I think about friendship this week. They naturally cross barriers they don’t even know are there.  They do not worry about their reputation being tarnished.

And they’ve reminded me, that neither should I.

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