Two days ago, the H and I stood undecided at Meijer. We wanted to get hummus, and were spoiled for choice. Stay with the tried-and-tested original? Roasted red pepper? Spinach-artichoke? Garlic? Cilantro? There were all calling to me, these neat little round tubs of delicious. It was a mundane conversation we have had many times in the past, little decisions of little consequence.
If you’ve been to a Meijer before, you know that there’s always a staff member who stands by the doors chiming “Welcome to Meijer” to every single customer who walks in. It is an exhausting way to earn a living. The lady who had greeted us earlier, walked over and smiled “Don’t you know how to make hummus?” in halting English. I wasn’t sure what to say for a second. Was she asking me why I had to buy something that can be made at home? Why would she discourage a purchase from the store, anyway? She was a tiny little thing, more than a head shorter than myself and simply dwarfed by the husband, and stood there with a tiny smile on her face. I told her I knew how to prepare it, but didn’t do so usually. She smiled wider this time and asked, “Could you tell me how to make it? It has chickpeas, no?” I gave her a quick rundown of the recipe. She had questions about the ingredients, how expensive they were, where would we find them in the store… The H stood by patiently.
When we were done, she remarked “I’ve always seen the hummus by this cooler. I’ve never bought it because it’s so expensive, but have always been curious how it is.” Once again, I didn’t know what to say. I pointed out that there was a promotion on it where you get two for the price of one today, and that’s why the H and I were trying to choose. The smile on that woman’s face! She grinned like a child, and told me she would pick two boxes on her way home today, for the first time. I melted a little.
All the way home, I couldn’t wipe the tiny smile off my face. I saw that she had really meant “Do you know how to make hummus?” What significance that one word has. It was a sobering reminder of the world being much bigger than this little bubble the H and I live in. How thoughtlessly we go through the daily motions of our lives, for the most part doing what we desire… while there’s a woman watching us a few feet away, who has looked at a humble package of $3.99 hummus many times and desisted buying it.
This little exchange was a valuable reminder of many things for the H and I that day. At the end of her shift, I hope that she spent a happy few minutes trying to choose what to get just like the H and I did hours earlier. And I hope it didn’t disappoint!