| Paper or Plastic?
by Sharla Taylor
It was a decision-laden day. I was of two minds, torn between
the options of how to handle a difficult situation at work.
Over the course of the day, I had worried myself sick bantering
ideas back-and-forth with myself trying to come to an equitable
solution to the problem. I was exhausted and stressed with
much to do and little time to accomplish the tasks at hand.
I thought I would scream if anyone asked me to do another
thing or make another trivial decision. Then, on top of everything
else that had gone wrong that day, I discovered that there
was nothing in the refrigerator at home to eat. Going to the
supermarket would make me late for parents back-to-school
meeting that evening, but I didn't want the boys to have to
eat fast food on a school night. So I made a quick dash to
the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for an easy meal.
It seemed that everyone else in town had the same idea. The
supermarket was absolutely packed with people. The checkout
lanes were crowded five and six customers deep. So I stood
and waited. Finally, it was my turn at the register. I looked
down the lane and made eye contact with the bag boy. He was
a stocky teen with Downs Syndrome. (Just my luck, I thought.
Today, of all days, I get the slowest sacker!) I reached into
my purse with a sigh and retrieved my checkbook.
The bag boy smiled, "Hi, Ma'am."
I grumbled an irritated hello in reply. (I thought maybe
he would get the message. That I'd rather not be bothered
with small talk.)
"How are you today?"
"That's o.k. I know how you feel. We're busy here, too,"
he said with a lisp. Do you want paper or plastic?" he
"Paper or plastic?" He put his hand on the paper
bags. I shook my head.
"Plastic for the cold things." I replied. "Paper
for the non-perishable items."
He moved his hand to the plastic bags then back to the paper
"Yes. That's fine," I said even more irritated.
"Either one will do. I'm in a hurry."
The bag boy scratched his head in bewilderment and hurriedly
started bagging all of the groceries into plastic sacks, without
regard to whether or not they were refrigerated items. (Oh
well, I just want to go home. Paper or plastic, who cares?
I thought to myself. Just get me out of here. This is lunacy!)
I wrote my check and the cashier handed me my receipt.
The bag boy placed my two plastic bags inside one large paper
sack. He grinned as he handed me my prize, "Paper AND
plastic, everybody goes home happy!"
His name tag said, Zachary. "Thanks, Zachary,"
I said with a smile.
"You can call me Zack. I'm the man with the sacks! Get
Zack had the right idea! Approach life as a game. When in
doubt, compromise. Play for win/win outcomes. I looked towards
the sky. (How could the answer be so simple?)
The next time you are faced with a seemingly unsolvable problem,
pray about it. Then look for answers in unexpected places!
Your friend in Christ,
Copyright © 2001 by Sharla Taylor