Learn this phrase: “Long walk, part of gift”



The son of international relief workers grew up in a small village in Tanzania. In the village was a well that bubbled up with the freshest, sweetest water for miles around.


After the son grew up, he often thought about that water and how good it tasted. Only one problem: He had become a relief worker himself and now lived in Zambia, hundreds of miles away from his home village.


One of the Zambians who worked with the man decided to do something about this. It was the relief worker’s birthday in a month, and the Zambian began to dream up a way he could get his friend the perfect present.


On the morning of the relief worker’s birthday, he was greeted by a colorfully wrapped jar of well water. The man opened it and drank deeply. He could taste in an instant it was water from the village where he had grown up. Somehow, his Zambian friend had come through.


“How did you ever get this water?” the relief worker asked. “The price of train tickets is too steep.”


“I walked,” said the Zambian.


“But the village is hundreds of miles away.”


The Zambian smiled. “Long walk part of gift.”




I thought about this story yesterday after my wife needed to do an unpleasant task that I couldn’t do for her. Everything turned out okay. Afterward, a friend suggested that my wife go get a treat for herself, but my wife was busy then and couldn’t go.


I decided to do something about it.


I know my wife likes flowers. In particular, flowers from a store called Trader Joe’s. These flowers, she insists, are the brightest, happiest store-bought flowers for miles around.


Only one problem.


I loathe going to Trader Joe’s.


In sum, this store is always super crowded. I mean crazy crowded. The parking lot is small, and it’s usually jammed-packed with cars. You often literally can’t get a spot. People aren’t polite in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s like they are at other stores. The parking lot of Trader Joe’s is a war zone of accelerating and screeching, of scraping in, and sliding by.


Inside the store is no better. The aisles are narrow. Everything’s cramped and crowded. No express lane exists when you want to check out with only one item.


I’m convinced Trader Joe’s designed their store with guerrilla tactics in mind. They don’t want you to pop in for one item. Just like Ikea, they want to get you inside and hold you hostage as long as they can.


So I fought for a parking spot.


And I waited 10 minutes in line to buy one item.


And I brought the flowers home to my wife.


“Oh, they’re just beautiful,” she said. “And from Trader Joe’s.” Her tone turned serious and she added in a hush, “I can’t believe you went to Trader Joe’s.”


I smiled and said, “Long walk part of gift.”



Question: In what ways does love mean going the extra mile?




FEAST FOR THIEVES, a novel by Marcus Brotherton

“Part Band of Brothers, part True Grit, this is the rollicking tale of a wartime hero’s fight to find his place in a post-war world.

Rich with action, Feast for Thieves is cinematic storytelling at its best.”

Adam Makos, New York Times bestselling author of A Higher Call


  • Kris Carter

    Love the Tanzanian-Zambian story. Also love the Trader Joe’s story with one important exception. In our experience, Trader Joe’s is the best food shopping experience on the planet. Sure, it’s crowded, but that’s mostly because they have high demand for their interesting offerings and surprisingly reasonable prices. Most important though, is the fact that almost every interaction I have had with a Trader Joe’s employee has been in the top 10% of interactions with retail employes across the board, and in the top 1% of employees in grocery stores. My wife has commented several times that they must have a very specific hiring practice to only get chipper, bubbly people, or else they put them through a strict training program to turn our these super-happy personalities. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, but I’ve been in at least 8 different Trader Joe’s stores, and my experience is universal.

    Again, I loved the article and the point it is making. I just don’t love that you had to dis on Trader Joe’s, especially with a perspective that is so different than my own experience.

    • Cotswoldsrose

      I agree. But I suspect that he went to a Trader Joe’s in the wrong location and/or at the wrong time. The one that just opened up where I live was a war zone when it first opened, and it’s still unpleasantly crowded at certain times; however, if I go outside of those times, it is no more crowded than any other grocery store. And I almost always have a great experience–I actually have fun shopping there, as opposed to other stores.