“Have a nice night.” I nod and gather my groceries. “Yeah, thanks, you too.”
The cashier nods and goes back to stocking shelves. They close in half an hour, so he’s probably imagining what he’ll do when he gets home. Maybe he has a son or daughter or wife–or husband–waiting for him there. Maybe not, but it doesn’t matter. It’s nice to imagine.
I smile at him as I leave, and he gives me a kind smile in return. It’s nice to think the best of people sometimes. Just because he works the graveyard shift at the supermarket doesn’t mean he’s worthless. He may be putting himself through school with the money; maybe he wants to be a lawyer or a doctor someday. But probably not.
Still, it’s nice to imagine.
Even in a shit world like ours, it’s best that way. I think you’d drive yourself crazy any other way. If you saw every stranger as just that–a stranger–your life would be filled with thoughts like, I hear someone behind me. His shadow makes him look big, but shadows do that. Maybe I should run. Should I run? Maybe I should dial 9-1-1 and hold my finger of the button. Should I dial? When in reality that man may just be doing some late-night shopping of his own; if you give him the chance, he may even try to strike up a conversation to help carry your heavy load of bags.
Probably not, but it’s nice to imagine.
It’s hard to stay optimistic and open in a world like ours. In a world where people are blowing other people up because they don’t believe in the same God. A world where a man can be shot down for holding hands with another man on the street. A world where high schoolers-turned-drug dealers dominate the playgrounds and alleyways. A world where a man can be stabbed to death for what’s in his wallet.
In a world like that–like this, like ours–you can’t dwell on those things. You simply can’t. It’d drive you mad. So I stay positive, I give people the benefit of the doubt, and I keep my sanity in return. So as I leave the store and hear the cashier say, “Be safe out there, okay?”, I smile and say, “Thanks.”
Maybe he wants me safe because he’s like me, because he doesn’t like watching late-night news shows full of murder and mayhem. Maybe he wants me safe because he actually cares about the well-being of a complete stranger.
Probably not. But it’s nice to imagine.