Editor's Note: PLEASE tell me you didn't wait to the last minute to do your Christmas shopping! But if you did, this article is for you!
The parking lot was full. It was early on Sunday afternoon. I hadn't expected to see so many people and my change from church clothes to comfortable attire had been made with little thought — an old sweatshirt with my jeans and cross-trainers.
I made my way through the automatic doors and glanced up at the giant placards hanging from the ceiling that pointed out the various departments. I went straight to the display where my targeted Christmas gift was waiting. My pre-shopping research had paid off — I would get the best product at the best price. I picked up the display product, did a final once-over, and then looked down into the glass security case. There was plenty of this particular model in stock.
All I needed now was a clerk with a key.
They were everywhere. A few were with customers. A row over, I spotted a large gaggle of same-shirted salespeople all gathered around a counter. They were laughing and talking. I walked up to a young man and mentioned that when he had a minute, my selection had been made and I was ready to proceed to checkout.
The smile on his face faded to a smirk. "I'll be right with you, sir, as soon as I'm finished here."
In fact, my interruption of the employees' festivities had already cast a pall on the proceedings and all but two of the clerks moved off toward their respective posts. But, my contact turned back to his remaining friends and resumed the conversation. I overheard enough to know that it would be a while.
Moving back to my position by the glass case, I kept one eye on my salesman and scanned for others who seemed free. No one else was assigned to the area at the moment, so I stood alone and made a mental list of the other stores I had researched. Just how long would I have to wait before the $5 difference in price was no longer justified by patronizing this shop?
Suddenly, I saw my salesman come to full alert. My sigh of relief caught right as it reached my teeth when he rushed past me to greet and offer assistance to an attractive, well-dressed young woman. She immediately explained that she was there to buy a gift, but had "no idea what any of these things do" and "would you tell me about each and every item" within thirty feet? He, of course, was thrilled to be of service.
I continued to wait patiently. Well, no, I wasn't actually patient. But, I wasn't rude. As the salesman pulled model after model from the display and explained every feature to the young woman, I started looking for ways to distract myself. In so doing, I happened to catch my reflection in the chrome of a nearby counter. Even with the distortion provided in the metal framework, it was obvious that if the young sales clerk chose his customers based on looks and charm, he had made the right choice.
Suddenly inspired, I began to smile my most infectious smile. To customers and to clerks, near and far, I gave a toothy greeting. A tall employee several aisles over began moving my way. At about the same time, the young woman who had captivated my salesman announced that she really didn't have enough money to buy anything today.
My rescuer from two aisles away arrived about the same time as the young man I had spoken to earlier. Both blurted out, "Can I help you?" I looked from face to face. Then I asked, "Do you work on commission?" Two heads nodded.
Within a minute, I had my gift in hand and was signing the credit card slip. "Just curious, how did you come to notice me from so far away?"
"Actually, I had seen you earlier, but you looked a little surly. Then, I glanced over and saw you smiling and thought that I would take a chance that you weren't just some crank. I was right, wasn't I?"
I smiled and thanked him. He probably didn't realize the gift — and priceless reminder — he had just given me. And I smiled at each and every person I saw on the way out of the store. After all, I'm not just some crank, am I?
Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone. (Colossians 4:6)