Sunday, October 05, 2014

Lessons from a Cashier and a Bottle of Maraschino Cherries

I am supposed to be doing a lot of other things right now but my heart has been urging me put my thoughts in writing. 

Earlier today, I went to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a dish that my youngest son specifically requested for dinner to celebrate his birthday with. I passed by the ice cream section and got a couple of tubs as well as a box of sugar cones.

The bottles of maraschino cherries, on the shelf above the freezers, caught my eye and I figured it would be fun to eat ice cream later with cherries on top.

While paying for my purchases, the cashier held the bottle of cherries a little bit longer and innocently asked me, "Mam, saan po ito nilalagay?" (Ma'am where do you put this / how do you use this?) I told her we'll be putting them on top of the ice cream. She replied with a rueful smile, "Ah, akala ko kasi jam na pwedeng ilagay sa tinapay." (Oh, I thought it was jam that you can put on bread).

I suddenly felt a hint of sadness creep in and left the store bemused. When I got home, I tried to make sense of my feelings by telling my husband about the incident. He was able to put into words what I was trying to process for the past hour -- "It's sad how she must have been scanning that bottle on the cash register for long time and never knew what it's for or what cherries even taste like."

Now, several hours after sharing a good meal and eating ice cream with my family, I am still wide awake with these thoughts running around my head … because of that incident, the cashier and the bottle of cherries helped remind me of several things:

1. Always be grateful and don't take the small things for granted. No matter how big or small the blessings that come our way, we should always be thankful. When I picked up that bottle of cherries on the shelf, I didn't think much about the price; just that I'll be making my son's birthday dessert more special. Because of what happened, I feel doubly thankful that my family is able to afford to buy extra stuff like that. 

2. Remain grounded and be an advocate. This blog post is not meant to humiliate anyone or raise my stature. I pray that sharing this story does not come off as looking down on people who have less than I have. Rather, the reminder and awareness that a lot of Filipinos are still earning so much less than they deserve for all their hard and honest work, all the more made me determined to advocate for social justice and positive change so we could help improve their lives in any way we can. No matter how small the effort or contribution in whatever form, as long as it is heartfelt, it will serve its purpose.    

3. Be brave enough to satisfy your curiosity. I am one of those people who hate asking questions that might make me look stupid or ignorant. So I honestly admired the cashier for candidly asking me, a total stranger, a question that I think, given the same situation, I would probably reserve for someone I trust and really know. Kudos to her for being unafraid to expand her knowledge.  

If you've read this far, thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you. I hope that you could also find some nuggets of wisdom from my experience. 

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