I rarely go shopping unless escorted by my wife.
Mainly because I walk into stores and say something inappropriate, out loud.
Like the time I went into a Brittany Spear-inspired store, Wet Seal, with our then-teenaged daughters and said loudly, “This is a hoochie-Mama store.”
Well, it was.
But for some reason, they didn’t appreciate my truth.
I’ve had an escort ever since . . .
. . . until recently I was trusted with a simple mission—pick up eye drops from the Target pharmacy. I had proven myself worthy over the last 15 years.
So with great pride in my newly earned status, I strode into Target, head high, looking around for horns blaring my arrival and announcing my accomplishment.
Instead I was met with “holiday decorations.” And it was only November 1.
Yes, the stockings were hung by the cash registers with care in hopes that eager shoppers would soon be there.
I didn’t like it. Too early to be exchanging pumpkins for candy canes.
And I said so.
I walked by the unsuspecting employees, scurrying up ladders, suspending cardboard reindeer and gold ball ornaments, and did it again. Yes, I said loudly and inappropriately:
“Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?”
Again, I spoke the truth.
And again, it wasn’t appreciated.
“Hey buddy,” a harried Target employee fired back, “I’m just doing my job. I don’t make the policies.”
I stopped in the aisle, by the Santa hats, turned and looked up. I saw a guy doing the best he could to do his job for what I’m sure is minimum wage. He looked more aggravated than me, his face scowling, eyes narrow, brow furrowed; all while hunched over the ladder’s top step clutching a giant cardboard elf.
I don’t know whether it was because I feared he’d call my wife and ask why I was without an escort or it was his retort, but Someone prompted me to say, “I know. I’m sorry.”
His face softened and he smiled a half-grin. “I think it’s too early too.”
I chuckled and said, “Yea, you could at least hang a turkey for a week.”
“I know that’s right,” he said.
“Well, Merry Christmas,” I said.
“Yea, you, too,” he replied.
As I found my eye drops—a Christmas miracle itself—I thought about all of the people just doing their jobs this time of year. Finding themselves doing tasks not of their choosing or during hours not of their choosing and certainly not for the pay of their choosing.
I wondered how much joy they receive from their work, not making policies; just doing their jobs.
And then having to deal with folks like me making wise-guy comments.
On my way out, I found the guy up the ladder again: “Hey man, I appreciate you working today, making the store so festive. And I really do hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.”
“For sure,” he said, “you too buddy!”
I realized Target wasn’t the only one skipping Thanksgiving.
I was, too.
Be thankful enough to choose a cheerful disposition at this most wonderful time of the year.
As Christian shoppers escorted by Jesus, let’s give the employees and retailers working so hard some joy for Christmas.
Dr. Joey Faucette