Ringing Up Patience at Register Six (Guest Post by D’Anne Hotchkiss)

December 4, 2012 — 9 Comments

Today, I have the honor of presenting D’Anne Hotchkiss.  D’Anne blogs over at LifeIsHOTblog.  Today, she shares a recent STRETCHING experience with The Stretched Community.  A brief bio with her contact links is included at the end of the post.  Enjoy!

Life is not a road race. When we slow down, we have time to think, and to build our patience muscle. (The photo was taken by Brad Smith, and is used by permission.)

The other day I made my monthly pilgrimage to Wal-Mart. I picked a time of day calculated to have few shoppers and little road traffic. What is the virtue of waiting three light cycles to get through a single intersection? I love efficiency and I’m not a good ‘waiter.’ My idea of good use of my time would be to have my teeth cleaned, my hair cut, and a mani/pedi, simultaneously, preferably while I listen to a good book. Don’t ask me about lines at toll booths or airport security.

Shopping list in hand, it took me 20 minutes to pick up my items. Ah, the bliss of shopping off-peak. And then I got to the checkout. I picked a short line. I noticed that the clerk moved slowly and appeared to be of below-average mental capacity. But she was steady. Fair enough, hat tip to the hiring manager. Oh all right, the other lines were longer and those shoppers had more items.

Over on my blog, LifeisHOTBlog, I write about how being honest, open and true in all things makes us better people and bring us better relationships. So from time to time, I push myself to do something hard because it makes me stronger in my relationships. This was one of those times.

While the clerk rang up the women in front of me I bid my time and bit my tongue. I tried to find the shiny side of each irritating minute. I can tell you that every item was lovingly picked up by the cashier, carefully scanned, with a pause for the scanner beep, and only then gently placed in a plastic bag, as though it were a raw egg being readied for a long trip. My life has been rushed lately and I should take advantage of this time to slow down.

As each bag started to get full, the clerk would carefully rearrange items to make room for one or two more things. No sense wasting plastic bags that may end up in the landfill and that cost her employer a tiny slice of profit.

There was a misunderstanding about which item was being purchased in multiples and so required adjustments. Miscommunication happens to all of us.

Why, one week before Thanksgiving, did the shopper need a large roasting pan and this particular size of aluminum foil? Oh, to have childlike innocence and curiosity.

Finally, it was my turn. Yes, the clerk exhibited the same care, if not expediency, with my order as she had with the previous two. I pictured a cat I had who, when she knew she had no choice but to endure the vet’s exam or other indignation, became completely passive. Not a hiss or snarl or claw.

Honestly, I don’t know how long before I was sprung free, but I’d guess 20 minutes.

So what did I learn from my experience? Nothing new. But I was reminded of some things that I seem to need reminding of periodically. Number one, remaining pleasant and gracious on the outside lessens my feelings of impatience and aggravation on the inside. Number two, I can embrace my fight and flight emotions and hold them, without them holding me. Number three, hissing, snarling and clawing really get you nowhere.

What about you? Do you sometimes choose to stretch yourself by putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation? How’s that work for you? Like any exercise, it gets easier with time, so keep at it.

D’Anne Hotchkiss Bio:  Life is rarely perfect. Sometimes, it is not even good. These are the parts that especially deserve expression. That’s my belief and what has inspired me to create Life Is HOT. I’m on a journey to embrace life through Honest, Open and True living. Come along with me at LifeIsHOTBlog and follow me on Twitter, @lifeishotblog. Let’s see what happens.

Jon Stolpe


Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • I don’t seem to have to put myself into those situations. They find me! 🙂 Thanks for the subtle lessons you were learning and shared with us. I believe standing in any WM line is a test of patience.

    • I’m with you, Bill. Shopping is NOT part of my “gift” set. 🙂

  • Hey multi task in line and pray. Pray for the world around you, the customer in front of you, the cashier who may have been hired because she is cognitively delayed, and is more likely to be stepped on, and may have been hired for that very reason. She won’t challenge the corporate system, and will take less pay, and won’t question. Pray for the customer behind you and there shared stress. Remember that you may have prayed for patience, and thank God for putting these times in your life for you to learn from. Pray to confess that all too often we miss the lesson that God may have been sending us. And remember that the hardship of waiting a few extra moments is nothing compared to the hardships that many of those surrounding you at the Walmart are experiencing, and yet the cashier, with limited faculties, low pay, no benefits, probably little respect from others ,and who knows how many other struggles somehow manges to take pride in what she is doing and in the capacity which she has been assigned serves you as best as she can, cheerfully handling each of your purchases like eggs. That is something we all should learn from, certainly i should. Thanks for the post.

    • David, if nothing else, by the time I’ve prayed for all of that, my wait time should be reduced. I will remember to try this in the future, because we all know that tedious delays are a fact of life. In fact, I think I’ll try it the next time I fly. Maybe praying for the TSA agents will make that experience less stressful.

    • I need to remember this when I’m stuck in traffic or when I’m waiting for the kids to get in the car when we’re leaving to go someplace. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Oh, D’Anne, I can relate to this! There is a check out line I avoid at Wal-mart all the time. A couple of weeks ago, I brought this issue up to my ladies Bible study group. The next time I went to Walmart I was determined to go through this particular line and be pleasant. So, I found the line and got in it…just to be informed that she had just closed her register to take a break! I will need to try again this week. Thank you for the reminder. And, yes I would love to multi-task teeth cleaning and hair appointment too!

    • I think some of us must have a special gift when it comes to picking out the ‘right’ check out lines! God bless you for challenging yourself this way. It takes courage. All we need now is a dental/hair/nails salon that loans i-pods.

      • I would love an iPod for the dentist office. I could have used it this morning (and for tomorrow). As it turns out, I have to get a root canal tomorrow afternoon. Yes!

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