enlightenment in the supermarket

every once in a while one of the cashiers at food emporium will say hello to me. usually not. one customer seems to run into the next like one continuous order of groceries. i sometimes wonder if i will return home with someone else’s toothpaste because it became part of my order in the continuous line of groceries moving along the belt. then i worry that i will have to check the receipt and see if i was charged for the toothpaste. i am sure i will not discover the toothpaste until i get home and then i will have to go back to the store, wait in the customer service line with someone else’s toothpaste and my receipt showing the charge and fill out all kinds of paperwork in order to get my money back.

i wonder if i will be able to load my groceries on to the moving belt and get the ‘food emporium club membership card’ out of my wallet before the cashier is done scanning my items and it becomes too late.  i get concerned when i am swiping my credit card and the cashier has already began scanning the next person’s groceries and i still have to enter my pin #  and then answer some questions like “is this the correct amount?, would you like cash back?”   the person behind me is anxiously waiting for me to finish as her groceries  come crashing into my shopping bags that are still sitting at the end of the beltway. I still have to wait for the final verification before i can press enter and her groceries are coming down the belt at an alarming rate. i start collecting my bags to make room.  it is usually right about then that the ‘verification’ message finally pops up on the machine and the cashier, who already seems a little annoyed that i am not yet gone from the store, reaches her hand over to the swiping machine and without even looking, her index finger manages to find the big green ‘enter’ button and verifies my card for me.

this week was different.  as i stood in line, i watched the cashier graciously greet the person in front of me.  she mindfully scaned each item with a slight smile. she actually informed the customer what the total order came to an patiently waited for the woman to hand her cash. the cashier returned the change with a smile, bowed her head to the customer and proceeded to very carefully place the groceries into the bag.  she then quietly thanked the customer, gently handed over the bags, and bowed her head slightly once more.  this cashier had an aura of peace and contentment. you couldn’t help but to notice her equanimity. she was different from the rest in a most beautiful way.  i was next and i couldn’t wait to meet her.

she smiled and said ‘hello’ with deliberate eye contact.  with her steady slight smile she scanned my items one by one. i knew there was no need to worry about the condition of my eggs as they were gently placed at the end of the belt.  her name tag read, tenzen  –  the same name as the dali lama!   i asked her where she was from. she looked up and quietly said “tibet.”

she spoke perfect english in a quiet manner with a tibeten accent. i had so many questions. . .

tenzen escaped tibet by foot. it took one month for her to reach nepal. from nepal she travelled to new york city. there was no way i could take the time to ask all the questions i had. i told her i would get in her line again next time i came to food emporium to ask her more.  her smile broadened as she handed me my bag.  she bowed her head and thanked me.  i bowed my head and thanked her back.

tenzen seemed grateful to be a cashier in food emporium on 1st avenue and 72nd street where she is raising the vibration of each person in her presence.  there is much to be learned here.



“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”


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