By Karen Malone Wright
In 2014, my Big Thanksgiving Moment arrived two days before the holiday at a Giant Eagle supermarket.
Mind you, I don’t have a Big Moment every Thanksgiving, and when I do, it generally involves a realization of yet another blessing that I’m thankful for. Through it all, tradition generally rules the day and following weekend: my husband, my mother-in-law and I do what we always do lately, which is at its core, a salute to Sloth and Gluttony. Deadly Sins.
At Giant Eagle, the couple ahead of me at checkout was having a problem — the kind of trouble that makes everyone behind them wish they had picked a different line.
Apparently, there’s a new security policy at the store that’s another example of crooks complicating Life for the rest of us. Customers paying for their groceries with credit cards must enter the zip code of their billing address to complete their purchase.
But. this 40-ish couple was from out-of-state, visiting the husband’s mother at her nursing home. They were doing the elderly woman’s shopping and using her credit card to do it. They had no idea what her zip code was. After about five minutes, they were clearly beginning to freak out in exasperation.
Right behind them in line, I couldn’t help but overhear the story and the name of the care center, the same one where my late grandfather had lived, too. I could tell that the credit card crisis was just their latest in a series of stresses. The visit to the nursing home ranked as Stresses 1 through 39. So, I took a guess and spoke up from behind my cart. “Try 44106,” I said. The cashier punched the numbers and it worked.
Huzzah! The woman hugged me while her husband babbled his gratitude. Then they huddled together in their shared relief. I don’t know if they saw the cashier stop working to lock eyes with me. She smiled — not grinned, but smiled like Mona Lisa — and said, “There’s always a ram in the bush, and today, you were it. You were meant to be right here, right now.”