We live in Eastern Tennessee. I love the South. People are friendly. Yes, the South has just as many problems as any other region in the US, and maybe more, but I’m going to focus on the positive right now. I love the fact that total strangers strike up conversations with me…regularly. Especially when I’m standing in line at the grocery store.
I just got back from the grocery store. The woman in front of me in the checkout line had unloaded her groceries and there was still room on the conveyor belt so I put up the little divider stick and started unloading my cart. The woman smiled at me and then pointed at the three Orange Crush Bundt Cakes she was buying. “These are the best bundt cakes EVER! Why, everyone down at the church was disappointed when I didn’t bring more last night!.” I smiled, nodded, and agreed that they were very good cakes. (I could say this with authority because someone from MY church had brought some to a church function. Orange Crush Bundt Cakes ARE good!) A bit later, after eyeing how loaded down my cart was, she made a comment on how many groceries I was buying. I told her I had 10 kids and I just hoped the groceries lasted through the weekend. Her response to that was that she had 2 boys which was the same as 10 kids and there was No Way my groceries were going to last through a weekend. She finished checking out and went on her merry way, I finished up my trip with a smile on my face. I was thinking to myself how much I enjoyed meeting friendly people at the store and then I started laughing to myself as I remembered my friend Peter’s trip to the store that he told us about a while back.
Peter and his wife Emily and all their children are some of our best friends. Peter is a tall, lanky guy, very gregarious, never met someone he didn’t like. Unlike me, who’s just doing good to respond to someone else’s friendliness, he has no problem striking up conversations with strangers. One time when he was over, he told us about his recent trip to Kroger, right down the road from our house. He said that he was standing in line and noticed that the woman in front of him was watching the register carefully as the clerk ran up her bill. Finally, she stopped the clerk and said that was all she could get, she didn’t have enough money to get the rest of the groceries still on the conveyor belt. Peter, who is always ready to lend a helping hand, stepped up to the woman and asked her if she would mind if he went ahead and paid for the remaining groceries. She was delighted and profusely thanked him. She went on for quite a bit about how much of a blessing he had been to her and then she said, “I want to bless you too! I’m a pastor and I’m going to pray a blessing on you right now!”
Now Peter is well-versed in the more charismatic side of church life. He was quite happy to take any blessing coming his way and so he said, thank you, that would be great. He then closed his eyes and in good charismatic fashion, raised his hands a bit in order to receive this blessing. The Pastor Lady, who was from a more energetic-type congregation, stretched out her hands and started praying a loud, excited prayer of blessing over him, right there in the Kroger check-out line. Peter is generally up for anything, but he couldn’t help feeling just a bit self-conscious and he slit his eyes a bit and looked around him. He looked at the clerk and there she was, hands outstretched, nodding in agreement as the pastor prayed on. He glanced behind him. No irritated customer there, the lady had her hands outstretched to him too, joining in the prayer. He looked behind the pastor and a random shopper had stopped her cart and stretched out her hand as well. At which point in time, Peter relaxed, went with the flow, and just took that blessing that was being poured out on him.
While I can’t say this story happened because Peter was in the South, I sure think it helped.