My cart was full.
I usually wouldn’t shop the week before a major holiday. I was only getting together with a small, limited group. I needed a handful of supplies for a couple dishes to prepare, but I was also picking up a few things for others to streamline shopping trips for people. I also wanted to pick up a few cold weather supplies, not knowing when that would arrive. Not to mention, I wanted a large tote to reorganize holiday decorations. My cart was full.
I assumed many people were shopping for family gatherings. I wanted to separate myself from others and explain, announcing I wasn’t contributing to large gatherings and the spreading of COVID. My cart was full for other reasons. I am sorry so many people in healthcare and emergency services are suffering right now, as well as families dealing with prolonged isolation or hospitalizations because people are unwilling to curb their activities and extend compassion for others. It’s not that I was overly sensitive to what others think; it was a conviction of wanting to be community-focused and others-oriented.
I felt the need to defend my cart and assure people I’m doing my best to consider others and keep the crises and inconveniences to a minimum. Not that anyone would have cared. I paused and looked around. I realized I did not know why anyone else’s cart was full or not, just as they didn’t know why mine was full. Perhaps they were shopping for others. Perhaps they were getting out for the first time in a month. Perhaps they just got a paycheck and could finally afford a trip to the store. Perhaps they finally got childcare so they could shop without the kids.
Maybe we could all assume less. Don’t assume the person with the mask below their nose is clueless. Perhaps they have anxiety attacks when covering their face and are simply trying to breathe through the anxiety of being in public and getting through shopping. Don’t assume the person without a mask is disrespectful and defiant. Perhaps they normally wear their mask but jumped out of the vehicle to run in the store for two things and didn’t remember their mask until they were already shopping. Don’t assume the mom of the kids running around and touching nearly everything is clueless and careless. Perhaps she is exhausted, overwhelmed, and alone.
Make sure your cart isn’t full of assumptions, whether you’re in a store or in your own mind.