Mom came home from Costco today unusually quiet. I watched and listened more intensely all day because it was just plain odd.
The normal routine is this: she glows when she is getting ready to leave for Costco, saying, “OK, kids, gotta go Costco!” and then comes home equally glowing, with heaps of cool stuff to proudly show off to us kids. Most of it is food for the fridge, but occasionally it’s cookies or stuff for dogs! Regardless, she’s always lit up about Costco.
Today was different.
So I waited for Mom to tell her story. It took most of the day until she finally asked me if she could borrow the Daily Tilly to journal her experience about Courage. Here is her story:
I was stopped in my tracks today at Costco with a true, palatable lesson in courage. We all have flaws, and most of us are lucky enough to walk around this earth without having our flaws exposed for all to see 24/7.
I’ve had a hard time this past year with the onset of sudden food allergies, among other severe symptoms and issues from an auto immune condition that affect every body system. The health issues have knocked me sideways with their sudden onset and surprise nature, and are accompanied by anxiety and panic attacks unlike I’ve ever experienced. I’ve lost a lot of confidence during this year-long flare and had to win it back, small step after small step. It’s been frustrating and terrifying. I am damn grateful to be alive and that I’m able to give to my fellow souls on this planet (butterfly, dog, cat, bird, human). But gratitude is easy to throw out the window when there are only 20 things you can EAT, and you are trying very hard not to be HANGRY – or, HANXIOUS – all of the time. Forget treats! Forget having a choice. You eat to survive and hope you do.
A few of things I am not afraid to eat I’ve found at Costco, for which I am truly excited. BUT. As you all know, Costco is notorious for bringing in an item and then phasing it out JUST WHEN THE GOING GETS GOOD. Story of my life: you find a great product, and you’ve been clipping along and one day when you feel you can’t live without it, it’s SUDDENLY GONE. Never to be found online, never to be found in the stores, you will never again see that really great product that was totally your happy-place-puzzle-piece that made you whole! (WHERE IN THE UNIVERSE CAN I FILE AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT ABOUT THIS STRANGE AMERICAN PHENOMENON OF PERFECTLY AWESOME PRODUCTS THAT DISAPPEAR WITHOUT A TRACE!!??)
Anyway, I flagged down a Costco associate while I was only slightly in a state of desperation at losing my happy-place pasta, gesticulating down the aisle, and craning my neck looking for the pasta, explaining how how damn important this particular pasta was because it’s made only of green lentils, and that it’s one of the 20 things in the entire world I’ve found that I can actually eat with this damn health condition, and there was no asterisk on the price sign above it last time I came to Cost—————-
Tires screeching. I’m stopped in my damn selfish tracks as I realize the young man I’m talking to has a terribly disfigured eye and he is sincerely and honestly listening to my stupid freaking problem intently and taking me seriously, and is about to tell me how sorry he is that they don’t have my pasta anymore. “I can ask someone up front and they can look it up in the system to see what other stores have it.”
I dropped my mouth and brain on the floor and looked him directly in the eyes, and succumbed to being completely disarmed by what I saw. “Thank you so much for your help. I will definitely ask someone up front – great idea!”
You know what, Mr. Costco associate… hey, never mind about the pasta! Holy crap, look at you. I can’t even fathom the courage you have to muster each and every day to be in such a packed public place as Costco, earning your living helping people who have, compared to you, few concerns or worries in their lives except that the pasta is no longer in the warehouse.
WOW. What a lot of courage it would take to be you, young Costco associate. And you possess such sincerity and a good, professional attitude! I can only imagine the inner strength one would need to endure this self-talk every single day:
“People are going to stare at me, but let them. I nearly died in that car wreck, and yes, it was a big mistake at my young age to be so reckless and drive so fast. And I will pay for that bad judgement every day right on my face, no mistaking it. I will look humbly into other people’s faces and wish they were my own, while remaining grateful for every baby step I take: getting into a car and driving again, overcoming the PTSD I have about driving in the dark, pushing past the utter despair I had after the accident because my life and prospects will never be the same. I’m just grateful to be able to come to work and focus on my future again, grateful to HAVE A FUTURE. And once I get to work, I am going to help customers find the answers to their questions so their shopping experience is the best it can be. Because they work hard to earn the money they spend here, so let’s make it special for them!”
Hats off to you, young Costco associate!! YOU ARE COURAGE EPITOMIZED. YOU ARE A SPIRITUAL PIONEER. AN INSPIRATION. I’m sending you love and energy, my friend. Your beautiful example has just made me ever so grateful for at least one thing: that the only pasta I can eat is gone, so that I had to flag down a Costco associate about it, then connect with you to hear your message loud and clear. Because of you I will try to be more present in my own and others’ lives, more grateful, and full of courage to tackle whatever challenges show up in my life. Thank you.