It only took me twenty seconds to say sorry to the Target lady this time.
My feet didn’t budge after she called the next person in line, maybe because I knew I needed not to move until I said what I needed to say. My eyes fixated on the counter, I stared at the cash register, willing it, hoping it would somehow speak magic words of apology for me. I wondered if the scene between the two of us could somehow become a comic strip, thoughtful word bubbles floating in the air alongside a dozen hearts replacing the previously pungent air.
“I’m sorry,” I finally said to her, my heart feeling like it was about to start beatboxing out of my chest. “You don’t deserve to be treated that way. No one deserves to be treated that way. I’m sorry I was rude, I really am.”
I glanced at my boys who had witnessed the whole interaction: in a way, the whole thing was rooted in comedy, even if it wasn’t exactly funny in that moment. In an attempt to find the one Hot Wheels set our six-year old wanted for Christmas, James and I had accidentally purchased three exact sets of another Hot Wheels model – which wasn’t what he asked for in the first place.
When the store was out of the set our boy really, really wanted, I purchased another one I thought he might like. I went to another Target the next day, but still couldn’t find the one he really, really wanted …so, I purchased another set I thought he might like, only to find the same set already in the trunk of my car from the day before and to ensue marching back into Target thirty seconds after I walked out her doors. A week later, James went to a third Target and you know what happens next: out of the set our son really, really wanted, my husband purchased the exact same set for our boy.
It felt like we were living on the set of Groundhog’s Day, twenty-five years after the fact.
By the time the boys and I arrived at Target to return the second set we didn’t need, Christmas had come and gone. Our son loved the Hot Wheels set, even if it wasn’t the one he asked for in the first place.But the Target system did not like the idea that I was trying to return something I’d supposedly already returned. So, the system would not let me return the item I had really had already returned but needed to return a second time.
And that did not exactly fill me with joy.
No matter what I said, no matter the stories I told to explain my situation, the two-year old in me couldn’t get her way. I stomped my feet and I pounded my fists and I felt my eyes sting a little bit with tears …because in the end, it wasn’t really about returning a Hot Wheels set to Target, but it was about the fact that I was tired, and really just tired of being tired. It was about the fact that I missed being with our extended family over the holidays. And it was about the fact that it’s been a hard fall, and before that, a hard summer and an even harder spring – and we’re all more than a little ready for 2018 to arrive in all her blazing, starting-over New Year’s glory.
I supposed I realized there was something more, something deeper behind my reaction that day …even after we pushed my credit card through the machine a second time and the system deemed me worthy of a forty-nine dollar refund.
So, I looked the Target lady straight in the eyes and said I was sorry. After all, sometimes, when we’re having a hard day or a hard season or even a hard life, we say things that aren’t true to ourselves or to the rest of humanity.
We forget about the divine stamping present on each and every one of us.
But when we remember and when we utter apologies and when we make room for do-overs, again and again and again, I think a little bit of light creeps in.
At least, that’s my hope for today.
So, what about you? Where is light pushing through in your life? Take it a step further: what Target lady do you need to say sorry to today? Also, I’d be remiss not to mention a book that explores the spirituality of Target like no other – Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales. Check it out!