I went into Wal-Mart yesterday.
A grandmother was there with her three grandchildren, the oldest of whom was an eight year old girl. Two little boys were captive in the push cart. The little girl was trying to load a large bag of dry dog food to the bottom of the cart. She was clearly overmatched.
I waited just a moment and asked if I could help. I was careful to praise her industry and then maneuvered the bag for her. She and her grandmother were profuse in their thanks.
On the way out I visited the men's room. A saintly older gentleman was standing in the middle of the floor, facing the wall, his clothing askew, mumbling to himself. I asked if I could help. He shrank more deeply into himself.
I did not wish to make him fearful. I assumed someone was with him. I exited the men's room and looked around. There was a lovely little lady, I believe in her sixties, standing sentinel. I learned the disheveled gentleman was her father and he suffered dementia. I suggested, since the older fellow was the only one in the men's room just then, that I guard the door and she could help him get back together. It took several minutes. All the people I stopped were very understanding.
The older man and his daughter walked out. Their thanks were far out of proportion to the service rendered.
On my way out the door, I encountered a pregnant girl. She seemed to be about fifteen months pregnant and carrying a small antelope in her belly. She was in great difficulty, pushing her overladen cart. I offered my church card and asked if I could help her to her car. She agreed. Again, great were the thanks.
What do we learn from all this?
- I spend too much time at Wal-Mart.
- I don't have a regular job, so time is not always binding on me.
- We live longer and more alone than once we did. The grandmother was raising three small children, the daughter was caring for an aged, demented father and the pregnant girl, as it turned out, had no husband and not much support.
Since we live longer and lonelier we have more opportunities to help each other.
We also have more need.