Michael McLean Music



I’ve never been known for being a patient person.  Haven’t fared very well waiting in lines or  being stuck in traffic.  Being put on hold on the phone hasn’t ever brought out my best.  You get the picture.  So this morning I’m on my way to see Doug Wright to do a radio interview about the MISSION TO BE HAPPY book/CD.  As I’m anticipating the interview I’m expecting it to be a very cool highlight of the day…maybe, if not probably, the event I’ll write about on this website when the day is done.  And as terrific as it was spending time with my friend Doug (who, by the way,  has always been so generous and encouraging of my various creative adventures) something I could have never predicted pushed my happiness meter way high and it’s all because I got stuck in line at the market.

There were a couple of things I needed to pick up while I was in town and this particular store was on the way to the interview and it seemed like there was ample time to get what I was after and not be late for my appointment at KSL.  There were too many people at the self check out line and the other lines looked long as well so I chose the EXPRESS lane not realizing it had that name because it DARED impatient types like myself NOT TO EXPRESS their frustration that the lane was clearly a case of false advertising.

The woman a head of me in line only had a few items but for some reason her credit or debit card couldn’t be read by the machine.  She swiped it two or three times.  Not working.  Then the clerk did something with a plastic bag that was supposed to help but it didn’t.  Then it becamse obvious the woman herself was getting impatient and then her impatience  turned into embarassment.  She looked at me and the couple behind me and said how sorry she was for holding everyone up.  Then she asked if the numbers from her plastic card could be entered in by hand so the money would come from the account that had some money in it.  After the clerk entered the numbers on her checkstand keyboard she called for the manager to come and approve the transaction.  But, (why this surprised me I’ll never know) the manager was NOT on the EXPRESS train to get to our check out line.  So I’m trying really hard to look pleasant, and to stay calm because in a few brief minutes I’d be answering questions in a recording studio about why I was on a mission to be happy, and why I wrote a book about it.

When the manager FINALLY arrived she typed in some secret code that only manager’s must know and then she and the clerk watched the screen for a while and apparently nothing appeared that reassured them that this woman’s card was going to work. The only thing left for the woman to do was write a check.  But finding her checkbook buried someone in her purse seemed to be as easy as finding Egg Nog in the Dairy section in July.

I looked at my watch….for the third time …and tried to breathe deeply but not let it show. Then an idea struck me that seem fantastically practical.  I looked at the frazzled woman and said, “Would you mind if I….”  I hadn’t finished my sentence when I saw something in her eyes that looked like, oh, I don’t know, like she was so sorry she’d inconvenienced me and so sad that this was sort of the way her life went most of the time.  Then I finished my sentence, “…if it’s okay with you I’d like to get this.  That is if my card makes it through the Cyber Inquisition.”  I swiped my card through the little machine and asked the clerk to add my  items to the bill.  Victory.  The right card at the right time.   I looked at the stunned woman and said, “This has made me so happy, you have no idea.  Thanks for letting me do this…and don’t feel embarassed or uncomfortable because you’ve truly made my day.”

She looked at me and  said “No one’s ever…I mean no one….” and then she started to cry.  Her part of the bill was $37.91 but she acted like I’d given her something priceless.  Maybe I did.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that if $37.91 is all it takes to feel what I felt today, whenever I’m feeling down and things aren’t going as I hoped, I’m going back to the Express Lane and see what happens.


  • Comment by Nancy Rosati — January 7, 2010 @ 10:19 am

    LOVE IT!!!

    I was at a grocery store one Sat night just before the deli counter closed at 9 pm. The man working the deli counter was in his mid ’70s and moved very slowly. There was one customer ahead of me – a man in his ’40s who had little patience for the slow service & was extremely rude. I kept watching the older man quietly try to work while he was berated by this customer & all I could think was that clearly this 75 year old man was not working a deli counter on a Sat night because it was his career goal. Surely he was only there because he needed the money, and that this man could easily be my dad. Besides, who would want a 75 year old man to rush with a meat slicer?

    When it was my turn, I tried as hard as I could to be polite, patient, and appreciative of his efforts. I was rewarded with the biggest smile, and an unspoken but clearly apparent thank you. I’m so glad I took those few extra moments and it’s made me be a much more patient person on line than I ever was before.

  • Comment by Christine Marie Heap — January 7, 2010 @ 10:39 am

    A special reminder of whose image we are all supposed to reflect. Thank you, Michael.

  • Comment by Christine Heap Tano — January 7, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    A special reminder of whose image we are all supposed to reflect. Thank you, Michael. Mission2BHappy here I come!

  • Comment by DeDe Smith — January 7, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

    Thank you for being the kind of person who does this. I can relate to that woman and what she was going through. Thank you.

  • Comment by Krista Maurer — January 7, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    I sure think you’re great. :)

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