Angel at Trader Joe’s

Covid-19 Social Distancing Day 5

I called my mom yesterday to check in. We’ve been texting but I wanted to hear her voice and have a longer conversation because, well, everyone still needs her mom. Even when you’re 41. And maybe she needed me. But probably not as much. (Call your mom if she’s still on this earth, friends. That’s a message that will never be wrong. It’s the little things.)

She catches me up on her life – back a few days from a trip to Phoenix for some sun and some friends. And who would have known that the world would change while she was away? It was stressful to fly home because of the fear of germs, but she’s brave and was armed with alcohol wipes and essential oils, and most of the people were nice. The only ones who were not kind were those who looked at her wiping as if she was being ridiculous, but the waitress was sweet at the gate where she had some lunch and a glass of wine. “I like your style, Girl! I did already disinfect that table, honey, but you go ahead and wipe it down again. You do you, and I’ll be here when you’re finished.” That was comforting. But why? Why would it be COMFORTING just that someone waited patiently while she was wiping her table off in a public place? I do that all of the time when I go out – not just during a pandemic. But yes, that kind and patient waitress was comforting because she didn’t look at my mom like she was ridiculousIt’s the little things.
On the first leg of her flight her meditation had been feeling the “sphere of protection” and she had visions of swirls of the Holy Spirit around her in protection like a bubble or an egg as she tells me. She goes on and on to explain this to me, and of course I believe her. God is always with us, and I’m comforted. It’s the little things.
And as she’s trusting God, she’s also wiping everything down with her alcohol wipes. “Believing God for protection and ALSO doing my part.”  And the lady in the security line was so rude–hurrying people along, being harsh and impatient. “You can move up now. Go in that line. Move along, let’s go, let’s go!” Even though there weren’t THAT many people even in line.
(As she tells me about the rude TSA lady, the defensive hairs on the back of my neck are standing up and “I will cut you if you bully my mom” rises up in my mouth, but my mom can hold her own, with the Holy Spirit. She’s tiny but fierce, and don’t cross her.)
But my mom needed some extra time to wipe off the things she needed to touch and had touched, so she looked back at the lady in determination. Suddenly something over her shoulder swooshed and the lady stepped back in shock and was silenced. My mom kept moving at her own careful pace, surrounded in her Holy Spirit egg. It’s the little things.
And then she fills me in about how she’s coping with work. Or should I say with losing work. She’s a hairdresser and an artist and the governors just told hair salons (among other businesses) to close in order to prevent the spread of the disease. She knew it was coming, and logically sees that it is right. We’re trying to stop a plague, here, people. Some clients had already graciously cancelled, but every cancellation represents another bill that might go unpaid, so it’s stressful, even while logical. Unemployment insurance isn’t guaranteed for the self-employed, gig-worker, or contract worker. I get it, and I’m there too.
The cancellations pile up, followed by the bills and who isn’t counting
Though she knows it’s the right thing to do, it’s also hard, so she finishes her last day of seeing clients and some are NOT very gracious. One guy rolls his eyes when she wipes off his credit card. Another guy rants about how people are going too far and this is just going to blow over soon and she fights not to roll her own eyes behind his back while she’s snipping. (Be nice and watch what you say to your hairdresser, people. What’s to say they won’t stab you in the neck and hide your body in the tanning bed? Nothing.)
And at the end of that, she’s got to get the necessities from the store so she can hunker down, and she heads to Trader Joe’s. She’s picking up the things she needs, mindful that she can’t afford unlimited supplies and food, but she does need a good amount to last, and also mindful that cancelled hair appointments the day before mean less in the grocery budget. (Grocery shopping is my most stressful chore for this reason. We need enough, but is there enough money to pay for the enough food? Gives me anxiety just thinking about it.)
So, she’s paying at the register and I can picture her handing over the money. Money that’s gotta last because who knows when it’s coming again? And the guy at the register smiles and asks, “How are you today?” His smile is genuine. His words are not just a greeting. She ventures an honest answer. “Well, I’m not really doing very well.” And he stops. Looks at her. Sees her. There are people behind her, but he’s not concerned. He’s not rushed. She’s the only one he’s thinking about right now. “Oh no, why not?”
And my mom LOSES IT.
All that pent up anxiety and stress and trying to do her part to wipe everything and wash her hands and close the barber shop and get ready for social distancing comes spilling out of her eyes and spilling out of her mouth. To this complete stranger in the Trader Joe’s. He’s maybe 20 years old and he just listens to her kindly. Nothing more, nothing less. (I’m crying as she talks into the phone, brushing the tears away fast and straining to listen over my sniveling.)
She probably got her change and thanked him quickly for listening before driving her cart to the car to load, and she may not see him again soon, or ever.
She thinks he was an angel. For caring enough to ask, and listening enough to care. I’m slowing down here, and you should too.
S l o w    y o u r    e y e s    t o   r e a d     t h i s    c a r e f u l l y. 
It’s the little things, my friends. You are the angel someone needs today. 
When this is over, we’re going to know things we didn’t know before. Living through a pandemic is going to teach us things we didn’t understand before. They seem like little things, but they are HUGE:
Patience is kind.
Clear communication is a gift.
Cleaning up before and after yourself is an act of goodness for the health of others.
Meditation breeds sanity.
Tolerance is loving.
Smiles are like medicine.
Seeing someone, really seeing them is valuing them.
Asking if people are okay, and caring what they say is meaningful.
And listening is honoring. A true treasure, given in a time of need. We all need to be heard.
When this is over, we are going to know how to slow down, how to step out of the traffic and truly care for others. When this is over a hug from a friend is really going to mean something special, and a handshake is really going to be a gift. A kiss on the cheek is really going to be a treasure. And caring about others is really going to be a priority. 
It’s the little things, my Friend. The little things.

Drop a comment: what little things are you feeling, seeing, learning in all of this?


  1. Beautiful thoughts. Sending lots of love to you and your sweet mama too. May the Lord bless your hearts with peace and provide for every need. Love you.

    1. Thank you for that prayer, Lizzy! We pray the same for you! Reminds me of “The Blessing” worship song that I’ve been listening to on repeat this week… <3

  2. We had a dance party in the living room today and it was a beautiful and glorious moment for my kids, but especially me. I forget to stop and breathe half the time because of the chaos that raising 5 kids comes with. But this moment was a gift from God that I needed at that moment. Thank you for sharing this Robyn

  3. I know your Mom. She has been my hairdresser for about 20 years (am I really that old?!?). I treasure her as a professional and even more as a dear friend! I can hardly wait till I can see her again. And that has nothing to do with my roots!

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