It could seem, I’m sure, that these past few encounters I have shared with you, must be ‘made up’. But, as strange as it is…they have all happened…just as I have told them to you. I think the Lord is teaching me something…in fact I’m sure of it after today…
I had to make a quick run to Wal-Mart this afternoon for some cooking oil. I wanted to fix Ian some brownies and I did not have enough to make 1/2 cup. I parked near the Garden Center and hurried in. I located the oil and headed to the check out counter. Because it was the middle of Thanksgiving Day, the store was not very full. Wal-Mart, in our town, is notorious for not opening up enough lanes to accommodate the people wishing to check-out…but today there were several lanes with no one waiting. I picked the express lane, since I never qualify for the ’10 items or less’ on my regular trips to shop there. And…right there…waiting for me…was …another one…
The clerk who was working was an older lady, who was not where she wanted to be on Thanksgiving Day. The customer was a man around the age of 70, dressed in overalls, a long sleeved T shirt, a flannel shirt, a down vest, and heavy work boats. He had a full beard, and a pony tail that reached to the middle of his back. Topping it all off was a knit cap. It was 73 degrees here today…he was way overdressed.
The man was in search of some “snuff…the green box…got little pouches in it…and it feels a mite cold in yer mouth.” Well, that is about as good a description as a body could want. The clerk, however, didn’t get the picture quite so easily. “You want something that tastes ‘cold’? None of this says cold on it,” she told the man, “and all we got here comes in a tin box. They ain’t no pouches.” The man tried his best to explain, “hit don’t say cold on it, but it just feels a mite cold in yer cheek, see. It’s just them little pouches in the round box, and it’s green.” “So, you’re looking for a green, round box in a pouch?” she asked. “I don’t know ’bout all that, I just want my snuff…the cold kind…in the little bundles,” he explained. The clerk had reached her limit, so she yelled across the aisles…4 to be exact. “Mary Sue, you ever hear tell of a bundle of snuff that comes in a round box and tastes cold?” Mary Sue, bless her sweet heart, came over and said, “Velma, I don’t know beans about snuff. But, Granny dips a little, and she likes that Cooper’s Ment kind. Here see if this is what he wants.” Friends, I kid you not, this is not a lie…it was Copenhagen Menthol! But, Cooper’s Ment sounds so much like Copenhagen Menthol, I can see where she would get confused.
Well, the old fella’s face lit up. “Yep, that’s it! That’s just what I been hankerin’ today. This’ll do me some more good! How much is it?” I began to feel a little Deja vu as he pulled a hand full of coins out of his overall pockets and dumped them on the counter. “That should cover it, I reckon,” he said. Velma was not at all happy to have to count out the mound of coins, but she plunged right in to the task ahead. First, she separated them into groups…quarters with quarters, dimes with dimes, etc. Then she commenced to counting. And, I commenced to praying…”O, Sweet, Lord, please let this man have enough money to buy this snuff. I cannot deal with the dilemma of whether I should help him out or not. I know snuff is not good for a body, but , what would you have me do? It’s wrong to help someone if helping them is really causing them to do harm to themselves. Lord, I know there is a right answer to this, but for the life of me, I just don’t have the wits about me to figure it out today. Please let him have it the $1.87″ As I was praying, Velma was drawing on her grammar school math lessons to count the coins…”57…67..77″ she counted. I cringed…I knew what was coming…”Sorry, Mr., you don’t have enough. You need another dime.” “Oh, Lady”, he said, “That’s all I got…they ain’t no more.” He looked at her, and she looked at him…and I put my hands in my pockets. My fingers touched something small and round and hard…I pulled it out…and you already know what it was…a dime! I promise you…there was a dime, sitting all alone in my pocket! Just sitting there…waiting…to be used…to do a kindness to someone I did not know. “Well, Lord, I’d say that is a pretty clear answer as to what I should do.”
And, so, I pulled out the dime and laid it on the counter next to his pile of coins. He turned and looked at me, and, in the humblest of voices, he said, “I’ll pay you back next time.” And, I replied, “That’ll be just fine.” He already had the wrappings off the round tin of Copenhagen Menthol in pouches, and was getting ready to pop it in his mouth, and “feel the cold.” He had it out of the tin and into his mouth in one swift move. “Ummmmm”, is the only other thing he said. “Happy Thanksgiving, Mr.”