A penny not saved . . .

Taking one’s children to the grocery store with them is never a good idea. I’ve known that for ages. What with all the impulse buying and Mama pleeeeeeaaases and begging and sneaking stuff into the cart . . . I get it. If I can grocery shop without my children, I’ll spend less.

Little did I know, however, that taking my child along would cause me to spend even more after I got to the register. After my groceries had been rung up. After I’d already paid for my items. And not because anybody sneaked anything or begged for anything.

No. That would be too cliché.

The other day, I spent more money simply because my teenage daughter is too pretty.


Let me elaborate. The cashier just happened to be a teen boy. And though he tried to play it cool, I caught him looking at my daughter when he didn’t think she was looking. I caught him smiling to himself when his back was turned toward her, but schooling his features when he faced her. And best of all . . . she was clueless.

I thought the whole thing was pretty cute. I was enjoying the ordeal—him smiling and turning away when he thought she might be looking, her looking at everything on the register except him . . . until I handed him my check.

Yes, I still write checks. The old fashioned kind. Don’t judge.

Anyway, I handed the boy the check. While he sneaked another look at my daughter, his fingers punched something into the register. Then he said . . . “Oh . . . I think I did that wrong.”

And then he called for a manager.

We waited. And waited and waited.

He called again. We waited some more. The girl child, who was the cause of all this and still had no idea, was comparing gum flavors and humming something from Disney’s “Tangled.”

Finally, a manager came. “I rang it up as cash,” he told her.

“You’ll have to re-ring it all,” she said.

I thought she was kidding. He thought she was kidding.

She wasn’t kidding.

Now, you’ve got to understand this wasn’t one of those quick, in-and-out grocery store trips. This was one of those overflowing basket trips, where you really need a second basket but by the time you realize you need the other basket you’re way in the back of the store, so you just keep piling stuff up in the basket you have.

This was all rung up, bagged, and placed back in the basket, ready to be pushed to my car. It all had to be taken out of the bags, re-rung, placed back in the bags  . . . you get the picture.

I patted my hair and looked around for the Candid Camera guy. He never came.

Girl child flipped through a copy of People, still humming.

And the poor cashier looked like he wanted to jump in the nearest sinkhole.

So I did the only thing I could do. I waited while all my groceries were removed from their bags and re-rung. And I thought how handy it is, in times like these, that I am a writer with my own column. At least this week, I didn’t have to figure out what to write about. I considered telling the young man to look for himself in the paper this Friday, but he looked miserable enough already.

And then came the cherry on top. After all was said and done, my groceries rang up for a penny more than they had the first time.

I looked at my already written check, then back at him. “You’re kidding, right?”

He wasn’t kidding. He did, however, look even more mortified, and his face was a shade of red I didn’t know existed. I dug in my purse, pulled out a penny, and handed it to him along with my check.

Try as I might, I haven’t yet been able to come up with a moral to this story. What is the lesson here?

I don’t know. I just don’t know. If you figure it out, please e-mail my editor.

I do know that God is infinitely patient with me. At times, He must look at me the same way I looked at that cashier and say, “You’re kidding, right?”

But He never loses His cool with me, or storms away, or gives up on me. Instead, He waits patiently and smiles.

And after all He’s already done for me, and all I’ve put Him through, I have the nerve to ask Him for more. At which time, He often reaches deep into His pockets and pulls out that extra blessing, not because He has to, but because He wants to. He loves me, and He longs to bless me.

“But You, O Lord, are a God of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plentiful in mercy and truth,” Psalm 86:5.



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