The cashier at ShopRite today, a black man of about 40, said, “Have a blessed day” to the customer just ahead of me in line. The customer picked up his bags, said nothing, and made his way to the exit.
It was my turn now, and I stood like a zombie watching the cashier in stupid silence as he processed my order. The five minutes I spend in the checkout line is my usual time for checking out relationally, where I instead figure out what I should do next on my to-do list, or where I went wrong with my life after high school.
Uncharacteristically, I started wondering, as eggs and half-and-half slid by in a haze, what it is like to work on the other side of the conveyor belt, and to have very short-term relationships with about 200 people a day. I wondered if the legions who scan the bar codes on other people’s bananas would by and large like us to speak to them or would rather be left alone in their own thoughts.
I have sat through not a few conferences on evangelism and then gone out the door to supermarkets and, still basking in the afterglow of the inspiring conference, viewed cashiers like automatons: “Boy, I can’t wait to get out there and find someone to evangelize!” I am thinking in my own thick fog. “… Er, what’s that you say? $46.50? OK. Credit or debit? Credit, please. … Thank you. Have a nice day.”
Though I might just as well have chosen not to, I roused myself this time to toss off a small comment in the direction of the fellow human being I was heretofore ignoring 2 feet from me: “I heard you say, ‘Have a blessed day,’ to the man who was before me. Do you ever get any flak from saying that?” The cashier replied in the affirmative, but added that when someone objects to his benedictory leave-taking, he then changes it to “Have a glorious day.”
“You kill them with kindness,” he said. “If they have nothing to be happy about, you tell them they woke up in the morning—and they didn’t wake themselves up! Some people say their prayers before bed but then when they wake up they forget to thank God for keeping them through the night.” Thus spoke the cashier whom I had almost not engaged in any interaction, from whom I had almost forfeited a blessing. How many blessings have I forfeited in my lifetime by laziness and want of a small word to a person standing in my personal space?
“Yeah,” I chimed in, “it’s like the 10 lepers who were healed and only one came back to say thank you.”
“Exactly,” said the cashier, and then our ships passed and I said, “Have a blessed day,” and so did he. But I know that he says “Have a blessed day” all the time, and I so far have only said it to “safe” cashiers. Good for that godly man. Just imagine all the seeds he has planted over time—and he’s probably never attended a conference on evangelism.