When the Walmart pickup guy made my day better

Two straw bales and a week's worth of groceries shoved into an Equinox.

I stood in the parking lot at Farm & Home Supply during the week before Christmas, trying to estimate just how much I could cram into my car.

On my left were two bales of straw that needed shoved in there for our goats and ducks, because the weather was supposed to go into negative degrees by the morning. On my right was Walmart, where a huge grocery order under my name was waiting for pickup. 

I didn’t consider the space issue when I set out that morning. We live far enough away that making two trips would cost my entire day — and a lot of gas. This was a one-trip-or-bust situation, and bust was a real possibility.

The Walmart order probably was the largest I have ever placed, with items for Christmas Eve dinner and everything I suddenly thought we needed for a coming winter storm.

I knew my car had pretty good capacity from the last two years of our house remodel. I spent a lot of time in the Lowe’s parking lot, looking at things like a bathroom vanity and the open rear hatch of my Equinox while asking my husband, “Are you sure that’s going to fit?”

He was always sure. Not even a hint of doubt. Shawn was never wrong, although many trips home were with our bodies squished between the car door and a stack of 2x4s balancing between the backseat and the dashboard.

This time, it was just me. The longer I stood there, the more the temperature dropped.

I rolled up my sleeves, put the back seat down and shoved the two bales of straw in, which left about three inches of space on the sides and maybe a foot from the ceiling. The passenger seat was open, but it wouldn’t be open very long. I needed to pick up Logan from a meeting at school.

I rolled down my window and smiled at a guy wearing a Walmart vest and pulling an extremely full cart. Every time I greet someone at the Walmart pickup, I make apologies for the dumpster fire better known as my car. I wasn’t even sure if getting all of my groceries into the car was possible.

I also was embarrassed and worried I was making his job more difficult — or at least more annoying — on a day that was already busy with the holidays and a winter storm coming. Plus, it was cold outside and getting colder.  

I got out of the car and stood beside him as we opened the door together and stared inside.

“What do you think?” I asked hesitantly. 

“We can do it,” he said confidently.  He seemed to like the challenge. 

We shoved grocery bags on top of the straw and into every nook and cranny. It was a perfect game of grocery Tetris. We laughed, and I thanked him for his work.

As he walked away, I got into the car and felt a load of stress just melt away.  Driving to pick up Logan from the middle school, it struck me how different I would feel if the Walmart pick-up guy would have chosen to act put out or annoyed with me over the absolute disaster in my car.  Instead, he made the choice to do it with joy.

And it was a choice.

No matter how he acted about it, it was his job to load the car.  Deciding to make the best of something he had to do anyway and even making it kind of fun, instead of getting irritated by the extra work, made my day better. I would guess his day was better because of it, too.

I don’t know this person. I don’t remember his name. Maybe grocery Tetris is his favorite thing to do. My guess is that he is a great worker with a great attitude.

His attitude blessed me, and God used his joy to extend some to me.

Proverbs 2:14 tells us, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

This is difficult for me sometimes, especially the grumbling part. I am a grumbler for sure. I’m often the first to find all the reasons why something is ridiculous, and then I love to go on about it to everyone around so they can join in me in proclaiming how ridiculous it truly is.

I’ve noticed before that grumbling tends to bring people down. 

That’s not to say we shouldn’t recognize what should be changed or stand up when something isn’t right. That’s different. 

It’s about understanding some things just have to be done. If we make the choice to do them with a joyful spirit, it just makes everything better. 

We never know what the people around us are feeling and thinking. Someone beside you could be near their breaking point, and your choice to smile or show them grace could be exactly what saves them. 

Thanks to the Walmart pickup guy who made my day better. I truly appreciated it.

Megan Duncan covers Northeast Missouri and Pike County, Ill., for Muddy River News. 

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