I keep thinking about the near accident I had at the supermarket recently. My cart was full as I weaved in and out of the narrow aisle filled with shoppers opening and closing the frozen food doors. I was headed to the end door in hopes of finding my mainstay Ezekial English Muffins, in the orange box.
I saw the child first—female, perhaps two, certainly not yet three. She was lean and tiny with fine, blond shoulder-length hair. They were rushing, no carriage, hands entwined. The child and my basket were on collision course.
The dad—tall, thick-shouldered, athletic—moved fast and with ease. He was leaning down and speaking to the child loud enough for me to hear, “Let’s see if we can find the bread on this aisle.”
She was too close. When I noticed her chin-thrust effort to keep up with her dad no matter the cost, I overshot the freezer and tucked the carriage tight to make room for her to pass.
I turned up the next aisle to circle back for my item when the dad and the child again whizzed by. “We’ll find it. I’m sure the bread is somewhere along here,” he assured.
Moving too fast, he had spun past the bread shelves twice. For a moment, I thought about offering to help but hesitated. It was the racing. It was the vibe. This man was so certain, so prideful; my intrusion, no matter how well intended, could cost him.
I awakened this morning thinking of the child—a brave little soldier in the role of dad’s companion in the quest for their special bread. Nowhere on her dad’s mind was the danger of moving too fast with a child in tow in a narrow aisle filled with carts. At the moment of our near encounter, I felt huge, Hulk-like, fearfully aware that my cart could injure in an instant.
There are moments of inspired instinct: to know when to step up and when to hang back. In this instant, I am grateful I had the presence to navigate my grocery cart safely and more, to pass on the temptation to offer help when none was asked of me. After all, being hero to his daughter was this dad’s job.