I started going to the Manchester Thrift store 10 years ago. Oddly enough, I was somewhat intimidated by the volunteers…most were older women who lived in Manchester (a wealthy town) and wanted something to do with their free time. One woman in particular, Barbara, made me quite uncomfortable. I would try to be friendly with her, always saying something like, “Hi, or Good morning” but she rarely even acknowledged me. It seemed like she almost scowled when I entered the store.
I started imagining that she was thinking negative things about me like, “Why does she shop at the thrift store? This is for people who need help.” As time went by, I began thinking that I just wouldn’t go back there. Then one day, when a woman ahead of me was checking out, I noticed that Barbara was not acknowledging her either. The woman assisting at the checkout said, “You need to speak up. Barbara is almost completely deaf.”
Everything changed in that moment. It was my perception of the situation that was completely wrong and all I needed to do, literally, was speak up. Barbara has become one of my most favorite volunteers. She is 90 and funny and sweet and always saves me good books, after she reads them (the last one was The Help). I believe that we live in a friendly universe but we have to drop our unfriendly, fearful, insecure thoughts to access it.
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”. Mark Twain