Last night, I waited in line to check out at the grocery store. I have an uncanny knack for picking the checkout lane with the longest wait and unforeseen technical difficulties, typically requiring managerial assistance. Last night was no exception. The gentleman in front of me had problems with redeeming his food stamps; problems which the clerk needed a manager’s help with. What took this moderately inconvenient situation to a blog-worthy post was what happened next. After the food stamp issue had been solved, the gentleman then needed the cashier to go get him a box of cigarettes, which took her away from the lane as she unlocked the cigarette case, got his cigarettes, then mosied back over to complete his transaction. The added wait was annoying, but what was really offensive was the fact that governmental assistance from hard-working, tax-paying citizens was (and is) affording this man’s groceries, yet somehow he has disposable income to waste on cigarettes. It got me thinking about the choices that we make every day and the reasons we make them.
Every day, we have the opportunity to do things that gratify ourselves, things that gratify others, and things that we do just because they are the right things to do. There are plenty of decisions that we hardly think affect anyone so we shrug them off as inconsequential. I thought about these things after the grocery line ordeal. The man who accepts food stamps should quit smoking because it is the right thing to do. After I checked out and wheeled my buggy out to the parking lot, I noticed that there was not a cart return station anywhere near my car. There were buggies galore all around this area. True, it was poor planning by the grocery store not to have cart return stations more easily accessible, and true, part-time, minimum wage-earning staff members would have to come all around the parking lot anyway to gather the unreturned baskets, but as for me and my buggy, we were taking the walk to the cart-return station. It was the right thing to do. Last week, I was on vacation in Mexico. It was an all-inclusive resort where staff wait on guests, hand and foot. I remember at least one event that wish I could change: a gentleman was wheeling a cart of food down a sidewalk. The cart was large, cumbersome, presumably heavy, and took up the entire sidewalk. The gentleman pushing it went out of his way to steer the cart into the grass, risking spilling plates, so that I could get by. I shouldn’t have been in a hurry to get anywhere; I was on vacation! I should have courteously waited for the man to push his cart wherever it needed to go, but instead, I allowed him to move it out of the way so I could pass by, then I gave him an insincere “gracias” as I strutted on by. Just because all-inclusive, royalty service is provided doesn’t mean it is okay to behave like an entitled snob. I should have waited. I should have smiled at the gentleman. I should have genuinely thanked him for his hard work. Instead, I pranced forward like the Queen of Sheeba. This man wouldn’t remember the incident, but I do. He is probably accustomed to rude American tourists, but I wish I hadn’t fit that mold. There are so many opportunities we have every day to do things just because they’re the right things to do: genuinely thanking the banker that helps you settle a problem with your bank account (even if it’s the account problem was the bank’s fault, it wasn’t your banker’s fault), leaving a bottle of water in a cooler for the trash men every Friday when they come to pick up your garbage, greeting your spouse with a hug when he/she gets in from work, working a true 40-hour work week even if you have a salary job and nobody else is counting your hours, and giving others more than they expect and doing so with a good attitude.
This is the first blog post that I’ve ever written that may not have one thing to do about fitness. It has everything to do about where our hearts are. If you choose to give it a fitness angle, take this one: maybe you don’t like to eat right or exercise. Maybe you don’t care about your arteries clogging up with fat or your cardiovascular system weakening. Maybe premature death doesn’t bother you. What about your loved ones. What about the expense that your poor health will monetarily cost them. What about the example that you are setting for your children, and the health ailments they will face if their diet is as lousy as yours. What about the grandchildren that you have or may one day have that will never get to know you if you die before they have the opportunity. Eating right and exercising may not be your favorite things in the world. If you get a physical and learn that your blood pressure and/or cholesterol are high, you should reconsider your reluctancy to embrace a healthy diet and fitness regime. Do it, if for no other reason, because it’s the right thing to do.