To The Young Woman on Cash at The Grocery Store

I was just in the grocery store, buying paprika and chili powder. It was  my second time in this store in less than an hour. Most of the cashiers are wonderful in this place, the kind of women (why always women on cash? Another chat for another day, maybe) who notice you’re there for the second time.

“You, again! You can’t get enough of us!”

I was next in line and had my paprika and chili powder on the conveyor belt thing when I heard a man yelling, “Hey! Heyyyyy! HEY!!!!!!!” By the third hey, it was LOUD.

I turned around and saw Robert running toward me.

Robert was a patient in my clinic when I had a clinic. This means I haven’t seen him in almost three years. Robert is intellectually challenged or whatever the inadequate terminology is now. He processes the world in a different way than what the experts call normal. And his life, because of this, is challenging in different ways than mine.

He’s a big, beautiful hunk of human flesh and he was running toward me with three years worth of enthusiasm.

When he smacked into me and wrapped his arms around me I started crying and saying, you’re so beautiful, you’re sooooo beautiful, and he yelled, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

That was it for dialogue, but we were at it for about five minutes. Then he just put me back down on the floor and walked away.

I was felled by it, the way anyone would be, seeing a long lost love. I wasn’t wailing at this point, but there was still a steady flow of salt water falling down my face.

The young woman at the cash, who could not possibly have missed this whole thing, said, while looking over my shoulder, “Excuse me, do you need bags?”


“Do you need bags?”

Oh, man, it made me sad.

Here’s what I want to say to her.

Honey, you just witnessed two people being felled by love right in front of you. Do not hold your doors closed. It will kill something in you and in us if you stay closed.

It’s also very likely that the next person in line has been felled by fear (of the price of these groceries, for instance, or of cancer or of the pressure at work) or loneliness or delicious lust or gratitude or some other force.

What a crime not to open the doors of your gorgeous self and be with us. Sad for us and sad for you.

What, you think your job is ringing up the price of paprika?

Honey, your job is to be in Love with us. The paprika, the cash register, and your bright green uniform are props. They are excuses to practice knowing who you are.

Love and openness are your real job.

That’s what I want to say to her. She was too beautiful – we all are – to forget this.

Let’s be felled together. Just falling over with love all day long. Why not?????

Thanks to all the free and not-yet-completely-free cashiers out there, and to beautiful Robert.

And thanks to you for the conversation.


This entry was posted in blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To The Young Woman on Cash at The Grocery Store

  1. Pat Stamp says:

    Dear Kristen, This really touched me in a deep place. “Love and openness are your real job.” So sad that no one ever taught her that…except you by example. I wonder if she thought about it later when she had a quiet moment to herself, when drifting off to sleep.



  2. Stacia says:

    This was such a very beautiful post. I have worked with challenged but beautiful people since I was 16. I so love seeing old students I used to work with. It’s too bad she could not see the beauty in what may have looked a bit crazy .It’s a great reminder of bringing love with us where ever we go.

  3. Shelley says:

    I remember Robert… he use to come in just before my appointment sometimes!!

    What I also remember how worried you were about him when you had to tell him you were closing your practice; how he reacted when you shaved your head;but what I remember the most is how he impacted you and how much you loved him! I am sure as I am sitting here Miss Kristin that he remembered all of that as well based on how he responded to you when he saw you! That is because you were always always loving him and open had your Heart door open to him! Your beautiful spirit follows you where ever you go!! – My Heart door is always so excited to see you!!! You are beautiful – thank you for sharing your moment with Robert… As for the cashier… her heart had to see that… and one day she will be open to responding – because of the seeds you planted today!

  4. S. Derek Shelly says:

    Hi Kristen: I am new to your writings here but find them very thought provoking which is so good. thank you for your insight. d

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *