Clerk from the Thrift Store

I went shopping at Goodwill today for over an hour. I also flew back from NYC this morning and was super tired, which affected me in a way I don’t feel up to adequately describing at the moment. You know, really tired so you don’t have energy to worry about stuff and you can sort of just flow easier. Like, just trying on clothes for over an hour and not thinking much. Also, more irritable. With less energy to second guess and restrain my irritability.

I realize I don’t have enough cash to pay, so I ask the woman at the register, a 40 or 50 something woman, where the nearest ATM was. Not surprisingly, given my mood, she annoyed me some with her response, me not feeling that she was clear enough. She also asked me if I knew the area well, which of course offended me as I took it as an insult to my knowledge. I follow her directions, which do not work, ask someone else, take a few extra minutes to find the bank. Go back, i check out. I bought $35 worth of clothes and trinkets which gets you a lot at this thrift store, so we had a little while to talk. I tell her I am buying a CD because the name of the band is the same as the last name of someone who was just a reference for me to get a job. She asks me what job I got, I tell her. She congratulates me and says how it’s great to have a job. I ask her if she works at the thrift store full time, expecting either a yes, or no, she works part time somewhere else too. Turns out, she works full time at TJ Max, another clothing store. She works at the thrift store another 15 hours on top of the 35 at TJ Max. She is incredibly humble about it. She says it can be a lot, that she doesn’t have much time for herself, that sometimes it feels like it’s hard to breathe. I start feeling overwhelmed and sad. She says how she has worked at TJ Max close to 10 years and can get a pension soon. I ask her if she’s saved enough to possibly start working less soon. This is where I really got blown away. She says something like, “I don’t know if you’re a Christian, but I tithe my income to the church.” I expect her next comment to be something like, “But if I stop titheing (as much), then I will start to finally be able to start saving some money.” Instead she says, “I’ve found I just have more than I need.” … and something like “Some people say that you can’t give more than God. He’ll always beat you.” And how it’s true and how it feels good and how she feels like it’s spiritually worth it to be so generous and humble.

I was just bowled over by her graciousness. I walked out of the store and immediately started to cry. I was so stuck in my own world, just seeing things through a lens of how it annoyed or helped me, and here was this woman, working all the time, hoping just to get a pension from TJ Max, and feeling like she has more than she needs and giving her wealth away. Unbelievable. it really shook me up. I started to walk out, but then stopped, and asked her name.

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