I like to be chatty with cashiers.
If I’m running Saturday errands by myself, something about the experience of bustling around the store makes me grateful when even the cashier asks me, albeit uninterestedly, “How are you today?”
It’s a simple moment, and good.
Recently I found myself in a very slow line at Target, surrounded by irritated people, and getting irritated, myself. The cashier was commenting on everything people were purchasing, and he kept messing with his hair. I was regretting my choice of lines.
When I was the next person in line, and the woman ahead of me was buying mousetraps. As she was taking her bags, the cashier, still running his fingers through his hair, seemed to be starting in on a story. The woman walked away from him mid-sentence. I felt awkward about it, so I smiled as I unloaded the cart and said, “Well, that happens.” The cashier looked me in the eye, nodded, and finished his story.
He’d been a soldier in Afghanistan, and one day he had to sit and watch his targets finish eating lunch. He had tears in his eyes as he mimed his waiting and watching with the gun aimed. The mousetraps had triggered the memory.
I had a pensive drive home.
Everyone has a story, and every story has value to a person who is really willing to listen.
Yes, striking up a conversation with a stranger is often uncomfortable, but yes, I do believe it's a way in which we can engage the world. If I had blown off the Target cashier as a crazy, unpleasant person, he never would have opened up and shared with me that one vivid moment of his life-story.
As leaders part of our calling is to encourage communication, knowing that through communication with others we learn, create, empathize.....and connect.
Sorry in advance if I sit next to you on the bus!
Caroline Davis has a fresh spin on leadership and learning lessons in the every day moment. Take a look at her post, Face the Future and walk into the creative side of leadership.