One Way to Pivot From Sour to Sweet...

I'm waiting in line at Costco yesterday as I notice an elderly lady struggling with getting large items out of her cart onto the checkout lane. I volunteered to assist, it was a small gesture and I couldn't see her struggle with the weight of several items before lending a hand.


I choose that line because I knew the checker at Costco who has worked there for over 5 years. I'll call her Kathy. She has helped me in years past picking out my Japanese Maple tree and several azaleas (sad to report but this past fierce winter in the Midwest has killed all these plants).


After the elderly lady was done, I said hello to Kathy. She asked me what was new. I proudly mention that my daughter had just graduated from the university. She smiled and congratulated me. I then proceeded to tell her that she's spending a month in Europe and is currently traveling alone in Rome. I also explained that I'd be joining her in one week to travel together for part of the trip. At that point, my daughter had spent 4 days in Rome and had just finished touring the Vatican gardens without any security issues so far.


Kathy proceeded to tell me that she'd never let her daughter travel alone overseas. She continued by saying her husband under no circumstance would allow it too. She also mentioned she's has a pharmacy tech degree and her church group was planning to go to Honduras to help those in need. She continued by saying, "I'd never go with or without a large group. It's very dangerous overseas."


I paid my bill and wished her a good day as I slowly walked toward the exit. The takeaway from that conversation left a sour taste in my mouth. Was she suggesting that I'm a bad parent by letting my daughter travel alone for a few weeks? Was my wife and I being reckless putting my daughter in a "high risk" situation by letting her go to Europe even though we had thoroughly prepared her for potentials risks and she had traveled with a group in Europe about 5 years ago? Was she thinking in her mind that anywhere overseas is dangerous? In other words, experienced travelers know which cities or neighborhoods are more dangerous than others.


The brief conversation started with the fact that my daughter recently graduated from the university and was celebrating by touring Europe and ended (while I exited) with perhaps I should be more careful with my daughter's well-being.


My takeaway, Kathy indeed meant well but she unintentionally rained on my parade!


As I left the store, I looked around for the elderly lady as I knew she hadn't yet left the store. I waited outside the store for a few minutes and then she appeared. I asked her if I could help her put the items in her trunk. She said, "That's OK, you don't have to do this." My reply, "I know, but I have a little time to assist." The last item I placed in the car was the vanilla ice cream. I said, "Oh boy, my wife loves ice cream and would be jealous of me handling it." She offered to give me a half gallon of vanilla for my assistance but I refused. Telling her, "I wanted to do my good deed for the day." As I walked away, that sour taste in my mouth had disappeared.

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I'm a photographer, observer, writer, traveler with a unique perspective on life, travel, work, customer service & the print medium.