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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Striving to be like Margaret.

When a rattlesnake vibrates its rattles, a warning is being sent. (I'm upset. You're too close. You are in danger. I may strike at you. You could suffer great pain and or death.) Strangely, I have witnessed Black Rat Snakes vibrate their tails to except they are harmless for the most part.

I bumped into a rattlesnake at the local grocery store last night. Well, I didn't bump into one, but watched from a distance as another person unknowingly bumped into one. There were many people pushing their shopping carts and none of them looked reptilian. I gathered four or five items and carried them to the register area and saw two lines stretching back to the aisle entrances. Okay, I will have a bit of a wait. Some days you have to resign yourself to the inevitable.

I chose the shorter of two lines waiting to check out. The shorter line had carts loaded pretty full. I carefully held my bananas, some bread, snacks, and a gallon of milk. The person in front of me, I'll call them Billie, unloaded their cart and pushed it to the front of the register to be filled with bagged groceries. Billie didn't have a triangular head, no diamond designs on their body anywhere, and there was no audible buzzing of rattles.

Billie spoke with quick low sentences and told the cashier of a bag of dogfood on the cart that needed scanned. Margaret, the cashier, acknowledged the dogfood and continued to scan the multitude of items Billie was purchasing. As each item was scanned, Margaret place it on the secondary drive belt that would carry it to the end of the counter where one could bag the groceries. Apparently, Margaret brushed too close to the rattlesnake.

Billie was bagging the groceries and the steady stream of scanned items began to back up. Billie, frustrated by this problem, shot some sort of warning to the cashier about the belt carrying groceries to her too quickly. From what I could hear it was something like, "Shut the belt off, I don't need it piling this stuff up; I can reach the items..." There were a few other comments I couldn't hear and I watched Margaret as she switched off the drive belt and continued to scan the groceries. Margaret's composure and facial features remained unchanged.

Margaret completed scanning and told Bille the total due. Billie continued to bag groceries and the tension was only abated by Margaret helping to bag the items. I remained frozen holding my items (No, I wasn't taking the mannequin challenge). I tried to be calm and pleasant. Margaret was doing a much better job than I. Billie, swept around the cart swiped her card through the machine, received her receipt, and marched out of the store. Margaret and I took a deep breath and exhaled.

Margaret looked at me and said, "Well, it's been awhile since I had an angry customer." I replied, "Yes, and so close to Thanksgiving." Then Margaret said the most gracious thing. She said, "When I get an angry 'one' I just be nicer to them. They don't know how to handle niceness." I mentioned about a Bible verse that talks of heaping burning coals on another's head and consoled Margaret. In 60 to 90 seconds time, I was checked out, grabbed my groceries, and headed to the parking lot.

I caught Billie putting the last of the groceries in the vehicle and returning the cart to the corral. As the back door closed on the mini-van, there in all it's glory and beauty was an "Ichthus" (The sign of the fish).

You know, the symbol Christians use to alert other believers of their shared faith in Jesus Christ.

I was humbled to think how many times I, a believer in Jesus, have looked more like a rattlesnake...

For all the Margarets in the world, I salute you. You model Jesus and don't wear Ichthus or cross to shout your faith. Margaret, thank you.

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