Who’s right? This morning I was in the check-out line at a thrift where I often shop. The person in front of me was buying an item and even with the 5% discount it came to so many dollars “and two cents.” The customer reached in their pocket and pulled out another dollar. The cashier took the money and asked the customer if they had two pennies. No, the customer said, sorry. On the counter was a cup that held pens and pencils for signing credit sales receipts. Emptying out the cup, the cashier found two pennies and graciously covered the two cents. The customer gratefully put the pens and pencils back into the cup and the cashier tendered the cash.

The sale was rung and a receipt was handed to the customer, who stuffed the receipt in their pocket and picked up the small item they had purchased. And of course, the customer then asked if the cashier had given them back their dollar – the one they had handed over to cover the two cents. That’s when things went sour.

To their surprise, the cashier said, “you didn’t give me an extra dollar.” Of course the customer insisted they had given the cashier an extra dollar. The cashier was adamant they hadn’t. When I, who had observed the transaction, protested on behalf of the customer, I was accused of planning a collaboration with them.

Geez! What an impasse! How a tiny lapse in focus can escalate into a full-blown, unresolvable argument. The customer left offended. I left offended. And I’m sure the cashier didn’t feel too good about it either.

What is the right thing to do in this situation? I suppose for the customer, the right thing to do is “let it go” and consider that the cashier may be having memory problems? But from a legalistic perspective, the customer was right and should have gotten their dollar back. Unfortunately, the cashier was the one “in charge.”

I wonder how much of this kind of misunderstanding, mistrust really, can be credited to how much we have on our minds at any given second of our waking life. Maybe the cashier was already working ahead to tasks they had been given to complete before lunchtime.

The life of the Spirit calls us to be fully present with each other. I hope you can find the time this week to make room in your mind for the person in front of you.


Pastor Nathan

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