Yesterday, on the way to the countryside, I stopped at a gas station convenience store to buy water, Halls lozenges (for a dry throat), and a bottle of Gator-Ade (to rehydrate my diarrhea-ridden body).
As I waited to pay, I heard the cashier say to a customer that she might not remember but we know each other. The customer was surprised when the cashier said that they went to school together, but she didn’t really respond to the cashier.
As I paid for my purchases I remarked to the cashier that she had a good memory. She seemed pleased but noted, “Money takes away your memory.”
That remark has stayed with me for almost a day.
The two women didn’t, at first sight, seem to be that different in terms of economic status. But I noted that the customer was buying a lot of chips and other snacks and left with her husband, kids, and others in a small pickup not much newer than mine. But the cashier was in a very poorly paid job.
Does money make us forget – or, at the very least, facilitate forgetfulness?
I think so, since it puts a veil of security around us who have money. We don’t face the precariousness of life that so many do. We see others as mere instruments in the economy who are there merely to facilitate our purchases. We don’t respond to them as persons – as the cashier tried to reach out in a personal and human way to the customer.
Maybe this is a new Lenten discipline we should undertake: seeing those who are around us, especially the poor and those in low-paying jobs who serve us, and responding to them in a personal way.
Who knows? We may find Jesus there – or, at least, as I did yesterday, some of the wisdom of God.