One morning last week my husband, Rick, and I were standing in the express check-out line at Lund’s, a nearby grocery store. The express line is for customers with ten or fewer items to buy. After we had waited in line for a while, one of the check-out clerks offered to take us at another check-out counter, where we could be served sooner. We eagerly accepted.
As we moved out of our original line, a gentleman with one item ran ahead of us and arrived first at the new check-out lane. He handed the clerk a $100 bill to pay for his purchase. But the cashier didn’t have enough change. To remedy the situation, he had to pick up the phone and call for assistance. This took a while. As we stood there and waited, Rick turned to me, “He ran ahead of me,” implying what I already realized: we are now waiting longer than if we’d simply stayed in the first lane.
I didn’t feel angry about this incident, and I don’t think Rick did either, but we both “noticed” the inconvenience it caused us. And maybe there was just a little bit of judgment toward this gentleman who rudely ran ahead of us so that he could be first in line.
Then, when this man finally received his change, we moved up in line to pay for our items. As the clerk rang them up, one by one, I realized that we had more than ten items—quite a few more, in fact. Our individual yogurt containers and a few fresh vegetables had moved us past the allowable number of ten. I turned to Rick, “Oh, I just realized we have more than ten items.” The cashier said nothing, though I’m sure he “noticed,” too. I felt embarrassed and wondered what the people behind us were thinking!
As we left the store, I said to Rick, “These kinds of incidents remind me not to judge others.” We had experienced rude behavior and thoughtless consideration from a gentleman who had cut in front of us. But then, lo and behold, we turned around and did something equally thoughtless and inconsiderate by taking up people’s time with our more-than-ten items through the express line.
When people behave in ways that seem thoughtless, rude, or illogical to me, or make decisions that I’m sure I would never make, I want to remind myself not to judge. We don’t really know why people do what they do or why they choose what they choose. And most likely if we tried to guess, we’d be dead wrong.
I never meant to be rude and inconsiderate to the people behind us, and perhaps the gentleman who cut in front of us didn’t mean to be rude and inconsiderate either. Intentions aren’t always what they seem. Perhaps his day was not going well. Or maybe he thought his purchase wouldn’t take long, and he could be done quickly without imposing on anyone. Or…maybe he was being rude and inconsiderate. I don’t know. And that’s the point. I don’t know.
But I do know that I am capable of making similar mistakes in my judgment that can be viewed by others as equally thoughtless and inconsiderate. So I want to remember: don’t judge.
And frankly, I feel a whole lot better when I don’t. I hope I can keep remembering.