Don’t get me wrong. I think most people consider me a nice person.
It’s just everyone else who has a problem!
Today I went to the supermarket to buy some supplies. Tomorrow we are hosting an “Amazing Race” event themed around the Christmas story.
I needed two things: cheap cookies and small bills.
Cheap cookies abound in Central Asia. Small bills? Not so much.
As far as I can tell, the method for giving customers change is pretty simple. Start with nothing. Wait for customers to come and pay in exact change. After a few hours, the cashier begins to have some small bills and may even be able to break your big bill.
The problem is that I was at the supermarket only 1.5 hours after opening, and it’s a holiday.
I headed toward the checkout line and prayed for change. I needed 4,000 Kzt in 500 Kzt increments, which I knew was next to impossible.
It wasn’t a good sign when I threw down a 5,000 Kzt bill and the saleswoman immediately asked me to pay in exact change or smaller bills.
I said I only had 5,000 Kzt and she almost refused to let me buy anything.
Like I said. Not a good sign.
I made her morning even worse when I explained that I needed change. She wasn’t amused. At all.
But I can be stubborn. Probably to a fault. Just ask my husband, but, well, that’s another blog.
I repeated that I needed change, particularly 500 Kzt bills, and she went to find change from other sellers.
I waited but when she came back she gave me two 2,000 Kzt bills. I asked for smaller bills. She refused.
She threw my receipt at me and waited for me to go.
It was about this point when I was going to give up. I could feel myself getting upset (since I could see smaller bills in her register) and usually after these episodes I end up getting angry, yelling, feeling guilty having to ask God (and other people) to forgive me.
But, you see, I really did need 500 Kzt bills. I prayed quickly and the Holy Spirit said, “Ask again.”
So I did.
Predictably, she refused.
I asked for the manager, who I saw pretend to not hear.
I said I would wait.
The cashier called the manager. Repeatedly.
I was about to give up again. The Holy Spirit said “Ask again.”
The manager came and informed me that this is not a place to make change, but a supermarket. I had my change. I should go.
I explained that I had told the cashier I needed change before I bought my items and that I’m a long-time customer of this store.
To no avail.
Again inside I heard, “Ask again.”
So I did, this time the frustration clearly showing through.
The security guard didn’t say anything but merely nodded his head to the left. Following his nod I noticed that a man had come and begun dolling out small bills to all the cashiers. In my rather heated discussion with the manager, I hadn’t noticed.
I got quiet and waited patiently while they counted out all the money two and then three times.
The cashier returned and started to break one of my 2,000 Kzt bills, but after all the fuss she agreed to break both bills.
I said thank you one and two and three times, but she still didn’t really want to look at me.
As I walked home I asked the Lord why He had me be so persistent.
I thought it was my job to be nice and kind to everyone, and to never fall into the “difficult foreigner” stereotype. Isn’t that God’s will?
His answer was simple, “They didn’t want to help you.”
Persistence isn’t rudeness, and although I rather dogmatically explained what I needed, I hadn’t sinned.
I actually just obeyed God.
This is another time God is teaching me that His ways are not my ways. And what I think are God’s ways are not always His ways either.
I realize that I need to get stronger in the Lord, and that being nice doesn’t always get the job done.