Had a chance to do some people-watching Saturday, and it proved very interesting. I was helping my sister with a garage sale. My job: money-handler. Her job: price dickerer. I realize that’s not technically a word, but that’s what she did — negotiate a price that allowed both parties to walk away happy (or at least satisfied).
Let me introduce you to some of the people we met. There was the tall, thin man in cowboy boots who sounded every bit like you’d imagine a cowboy should — slow, steady words in a deep, base voice. He was ecstatic (at least as ecstatic as a cowboy can be) over his purchase of a couple coffee cans full of miscellaneous nails, screws and drill bits. He mentioned twice that that $1.00 purchase saved him a trip to Lowes. Glad we could help!
We also met the grandmother — or was she the mother? — of a 1st grade boy and 2nd grade girl who were “shopping” with her. I never did determine her exact relationship to the kids and it was hard to tell her age. In talking with her, however, I learned that “John” is in the same 1st grade class as my granddaughter. As soon as that connection was made, her shopping suddenly ended and she began a detailed account of her over-the-top plans for his birthday party later this month. Of course, my granddaughter will be invited because nowadays no one in a class is excluded from receiving an invitation. And, I received my own personal invitation as well (probably an effort to enlist my help in chaperoning all those kids)! Not sure what, if anything, she purchased. My head was too busy spinning with visions of cotton candy, trampolines, blow-up bounce houses, monkey bars with air mattresses beneath them, and of course, cake, ice cream and thirty 1st graders running helter-skelter all over the place!
Then there was the man who got a chuckle over my sister’s use of the word “dicker.” He apparently hadn’t heard that word in years and it took him back to his stomping grounds as a kid growing up in South Carolina. Not sure what he ended up buying either!
And then there was the man looking at (and purchasing) several tools. He would buy a couple of things, circle around and buy another couple of things. Then he continued to circle around again and again and again, buying things with every lap he made. He reminded me of a kid in a candy store. He had a little money to spend and wanted to make sure he got the most important things first. Either that or he just had a hard time making decisions! But he was funny and he was buying stuff, so we didn’t mind that he was creating a well-worn path in the garage floor.
The last one I’ll mention was the mother of three. She was from out of town and stopped by because of a last-minute, desperate attempt to find something to fill her time while her senior high daughter was taking an SAT test at a school nearby. She was honest right off the bat. She wasn’t shopping for anything. She just had time on her hands. Fortunately both my sister and I had been through the SATs with kids, so we could identify with her anxiety as well as the need to find something to do to pass the time. We didn’t mind that she walked away with nothing. It was a joy just to visit with her.
People. All kinds of people. All ages, sizes and shapes of people. Some interacting with us as they shopped; others choosing to remain silent and distant. All landing at our sale because of one little sign posted at the end of the street.
Out of all the people who came to the sale, these five stand out in my mind over 24 hours later. All left an impression of some kind — mostly good. I can still see their faces, expressions and mannerisms, and vaguely hear their voices in my head. Which makes me wonder. Was there anything I said or did that left an impression on them in return? If so, I pray it was good. Even hot, sweaty and tired, did my speech or mannerism reflect Christ in any way? Oh, how I pray it did.
People and choices. They seem to go hand-in-hand. Nearly everything we do in life is a choice we make. We choose to get up in the mornings. We choose what to wear. We choose to get the kids up and ready for the day. We choose whether or not to start the day with God. We choose to go to work. We choose to walk into the office with a frown or a smile with a cheerful greeting. We choose where to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat. We choose. And even if we find ourselves in the rare situation where a choice is made for us (be it good or bad), we still have a choice in how we react.
People and choices. There’s no living without them. So why not make the best choices possible and put your best foot forward wherever you go with whomever you meet? Remember, there are people watching you. And you never know when you could be leaving behind an impression of eternal significance.