By Zack Brewer,
Senior Opinion Writer
“How are you today, sir?” I asked courteously with a smile, sliding merchandise over the scanny, beepy thing that cashiers generally slide items over—I never really got the nomenclature down, but that wasn’t exactly crucial to the job. I recognized this particular customer as a former interim pastor of a church I attended many years prior, though I suspected this feeling of recognition was not mutual. Surely, years of growth and de-fatification, which had morphed my visage from that of a chubby boy into to a slightly less chubby yet equally-as-hairless man, would prevent him from noticing me out of the hundreds of people in a busy department store as someone to whom he had preached.
Perhaps it was the thought of relative anonymity I had with almost all of my customers (except for the rare acquaintances from high school, many of which were sadly there purchasing baby formula for their second child), or maybe the blood pooling in the soles of my feet due to standing up for three straight hours was making me feel a bit loopy, but for some reason, I felt a sudden urge to pray for this man. Not get down on my knees at a makeshift altar, obviously, but to simply and silently ask God for grace and love and peace in this man’s life.
Now, as you can imagine or may have possibly experienced, there is not a whole lot of satisfaction in being a cashier—at least for me, anyway. I’m a writer, a dancer, an actor, a director; I play my music in the sun. Though I certainly have a new-found respect for the profession, it’s just not for me. For weeks, I woke up every morning asking myself, “What’s in it for me today?” I would clock out feeling as if I had made no difference in anyone’s life that day, least of all my own. My sense of self-worth plummeted from “healthy” to “see a therapist” within a month.
I did find satisfaction in collecting donations for the Children’s Miracle Network, however. I accumulated hundreds of dollars for the charity in my first week alone. Once a man came in and purchased only two wallets and made a forty dollar donation; presumably, the wallets were for storing all of his extra money in. But, as good things so often do, that had to come to an end. My employer collected X amount of dollars, and I guess they felt like children’s hospitals didn’t need any more than that. Oh well.
So how does a Christian find meaning in such an aimless situation? This was a question I asked myself for days. “What’s the difference between me and Operator #6053 over here? Besides the fact that he only eats those little cheese wedges for lunch?” It was in the aforementioned moment, when I felt compelled to pray for that man, that I found meaning—by making it mean something. The man did not recognize me; he went about his day, blissfully unaware of my quick conversation with God about him, but I hope he was blessed because of it all. And so it went with every customer since.
From that moment until I “retired” from the business a short two weeks later, I prayed for every person who made his or her way through my aisle. Silent prayers of salvation, a relationship with God, peace, safety, deliverance from troubles; I prayed for everything I could think of for as many people as I could. I talked to God more over those few days than I ever had before in my life (and I was a Cleveland Browns fan, so it’s not like I’ve never had anything to ask for, either).
So, consider this an introduction to my meandering views on the subject of communication with the Holy Spirit; the prayers, musings and ideas of a bored and God-seeking cashier.