a Word of the Day Challenge post

Yesterday seemed determined to chap my ass and laugh about it. But just when I was about to write the whole day off as off as an overcooked shitburger, something happened.

Running late for an appointment, my husband and I stopped at a local Sheetz for some MTO. Sheetz is Pennsylvania’s reigning convenience store/quick food mart, and MTO stands for Made To Order. At any given time, thirty-three percent of Pennsylvanians are clustered together in a Sheetz marking time until their number is called and a white bag of hot take out is handed over by an overworked, underappreciated counter slave. The pervading mood tends to be aggravated rush.

As we waited for our food, I spied an elderly, suspenders-wearing gentleman standing dejectedly at one of the touch screen menus. Clearly, he didn’t know how to order food electronically. It’s a fairly common occurence in a Sheetz, and sometimes the tech-savvy customers stuck in line behind a confused, hungry, elder can get a bit surly. Before I could offer help, the elderly gentleman looked around, steeled himself, and addressed a college-aged guy to his left.

“Could you please order me two hot dogs with mustard and onions?” the gentleman asked. “I can’t figure these things out.”

And the young guy stepped up. He stepped up in the kindest, most patient way. He not only helped the elderly gentleman place his order, but he showed not one ounce of annoyance, inconvenience, or superiority. The younger man respectfully talked the older one through the whole process, explaining each step, and asking if there were anything more he could do to help. For his part, the older man was friendly, open, and grateful for the assistance.

After the elderly gentleman took his receipt to the register to pay, I approached the young helper and thanked him for his kindness. The young man blushed and smiled, pushed back his ball cap, and seemed genuinely touched that anyone had noticed the interaction. He certainly had no idea his simple act of providing support to a senior stranger was just the timely reminder I needed that whether a day is bad or good is both relative and attitudinal– and certainly subject to change.

I didn’t linger, however, and as I stepped back in line to wait for my own MTO, I might have noticed the young man’s eyes well up a bit. It was hard to tell through my own happy tears.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would tell me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
– Mr. Rogers

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Wife. Sister. Mother. Daughter. Writer. Crafter. Bohemian. Make me laugh and I’m yours.

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