Last September when we were involved in redoing my family’s old home place so our one son could buy it from another son, we went to a big warehouse in the city to buy needed materials because most of the volunteer workers for the project came on weekends, and we ended up shopping on Sunday when local sources were closed.
It was very seldom that anybody offered to help the shoppers there. Usually you had to ask for or even demand help.
We had rounded up the items we’d been sent for and were heading to the checkout. As we passed a large display of different light fixtures mounted high up on the wall, I remembered that we n needed two of them. I saw one that would be perfect just as a store employee went by.
“Pardon me,” I interrupted him, “could you please tell me where I can find those lights?”
He looked up where I pointed and said, “Yes, ma’am. Those are in bin 437.”
“Okay,” I answered as I looked over the numbered bins, “but where is that?” I didn’t see it.
“Well it should be right here…” he faltered as he saw no bin 437 either.
“Uh-huh,” I looked again.
“Hmmm,” he settled into a real search of the area.
“Look, if you could just get that one down for me,” I began.
“Lady, it’s hooked to the wall.”
I could see that. I tried to explain that if the glass shade didn’t fit very tightly into the base I wouldn’t buy the fixture because it was for a child’s room.
“I can’t reach that,” he said condescendingly.
Spying a portable staircase in the aisle, I suggested, “You move that thing over here, and I can reach the light myself.”
“I can’t let you do that,” he explained reasonably.
“You swing that sucker over here, and turn your back, and you won’t have to see me do it,” I retorted.
“Now look, lady, I’m a retired Marine sergeant…”
He was about my age and a typical old goat. He wasn’t about to let some old bag get the best of him. Normally I’m pretty easy-going, but he had rattled the wrong cage. I’d had enough of “superior” males for one day.
“Marine sergeant? Well you don’t scare me. I’m a retired junior high school teacher!”
“Oh,” he began to back pedal a little. In a calmer voice he informed me, “Well, I’m also a licensed minister.”
“Oh, really. Well I’m a certified theology professor. I teach Christology, Moral Theology, and Old Testament.” I wasn’t about to explain that those were just very formal names for the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade religion classes I had taught.
At that he stepped back and accidentally put his hand on the bin that held the lights we had been looking for. The Lord does work in wondrous ways.
We had a minor skirmish over opening the box, but it was opened, and guess what! The shade was too short. It would never have worked in the child’s room.
As we took our leave, the gentleman-clerk said, “It’s been a real pleasure talking with you, and I’ll be glad to help you anytime you’re in the store.”
I laughed as I told him, “That has to be the preacher talking. It couldn’t be the store clerk.”
He laughed too and assured me of his sincerity, but we never saw him again. I think he saw me first.