Last Thursday, I made what I hoped would be a quick trip to a local store to finish up my Christmas shopping. I usually enjoy shopping for Christmas presents, but this particular expedition wasn’t going well. I needed to buy a stocking for my grandson and was pleased to see that the store had a large selection of them. I was less pleased to see that for some reason, they had placed several large pallets stacked high with cartons of soda pop directly in front of the stocking display. While I could see the stockings I was interested in buying, I couldn’t actually reach them.
I looked around for someone to help, but the only other people around were harried shoppers trying to push their enormous carts through the aisles that were partially blocked by the pallets. Undaunted, I grabbed a roll of wrapping paper and used it to reach over the pallets and snag some stockings. I made my selection and was just considering what to do with the stockings I didn’t want when man came up and wheeled away one of the pallets. Which was a good thing, because it saved me from having to decide whether to use my wrapping paper roll to try to replace the stockings on the shelf, or to simply toss them over the pallets and hope they landed in the right spot.
Next I needed a board game, so I went to the toy department. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the game on my list but I was pleased to see two staff persons chatting in the next aisle who should be able to help. I approached them and waited patiently for them to finish talking so that I could ask about my game. And waited. And then waited some more. Finally, I gave up and stomped off, but not before muttering, “No wonder so many people shop online!” just loud enough for them to hear.
I know that the trend toward online shopping has made it very difficult for real “brick and mortar stores” to survive. And while I do enjoy the convenience of online shopping, I also feel there is a real need for actual stores that provide real jobs and give me a chance to physically examine (and sometimes try on) something before I buy it. Besides, I really don’t want to live in a world where we all shop, learn, conduct our social life, etc. while sitting in front of a computer in our underwear. Real stores allow us to get out into the real world and engage with one another in person, and there’s a certain value in that.
But I was beginning to have very dark thoughts about real stores that morning as I went back to the toy section to look one more time for the game. I had just given up (and was thinking that I might never shop in that store again) when a staff person walked up and asked if she could help me. Surprised, I told her what I was looking for, and she told me she thought they had a few of them in stock. “Stay right here,” she instructed me, “and I’ll get it for you.” Sure enough, she came back a few minutes later with the game, and asked if there was anything else she could help me with. She couldn’t possibly have been nicer, and I have to say that our interaction changed my mood completely. I think I was even humming along with the Christmas background music as I made my way to the check out line.
The whole incident reminded me how often I am too quick to judge a situation, especially in a negative way. Sometimes first impressions aren’t everything. Who hasn’t had a day that started out very badly but ended up with something really good happening? Or met someone they didn’t like very much until they took the time to get to know them better? Sometimes we just need to let things play out a little before we react. And sometimes good things happen when we’re willing to just give it a little time.