The line-up was long, curling around, backing into the aisle-end display of assorted herbal teas.
Shopper’s carts were packed with Poinsettias, party trays and holiday food provisions. My children were whiny, grabbing at every item they knew I would not want to purchase.
As a dietitian, there is the inevitable awkwardness when I run into one of my clients, and we both feel sensitive about what is in our shopping carts. As I put my container of ice cream on the conveyor belt, I can hear myself telling them strategies to reduce their sugar intake. Needless to say, I wanted to be home.
I began thinking about Amazon go! opening its first stores across the United States. If you didn’t think Amazon was taking over the world, they now own Whole Foods, and have opened a chain of cashier-less grocery stores. By downloading their app, you can walk in, take whatever you want and leave, without waiting in any lines or making any interactions. You are charged through your cell phone.
As I stood, weighing in on whether I wanted Amazon to have access to all my shopping data, I saw a good friend of mine. We exchanged “holiday shopping chaos” glances. Then I ran into my dentist, my neighbour, a colleague from work. My daughters saw their swim buddies and friends from school. The cashier smiled at me, and we joked about the joys of shopping with kids.
By the time my groceries were packed and ready to go, everyone was smiling and filled with holiday cheer. Leaving the store, I recognized the intangible benefits of these personal interactions. Interacting in a positive manner with people, even if they are not known to you, is a form of mental health. As we greet one another, we recognize and respect our shared existence.
So as you wait in line at the store this holiday season, think of all the benefits it is bringing to your health. Joke around with the person in front of you. Make small talk with the cashier. In the long-term, those positive interactions not only augment our spirits, but provide jobs for our community.