Yesterday I had to run some errands at a local SuperStore. As I exited my car and tried to shove my keys into my purse I discovered that they would not fit. The keys were so bulky that I could not get them to fit inside my pockets, either. Dumb keys, I thought to myself as I threw them into the child-seat of my shopping cart.
Once my purchases were complete I made my exit. As I approached the corral for the shopping carts in the parking lot I noticed a man in tattered clothes sifting through a trash can there."You have a Merry Christmas!" he said to me, smiling. I grabbed my purchases from my cart, responded with, "You too!" and pushed my cart into the corral, hurrying towards my car.
I heard a voice from behind me.
"Miss! Wait! Miss!" the man called after me. I glanced over my shoulder and confirmed that it was the poorly dressed man who had just wished me a merry Christmas. To be honest, I was initially a bit frightened. Why was this man rushing towards me? Was he going to ask for money? Should I rush to my car and get inside?
I stopped near my car, turning to face him. "Yes?" I asked, still somewhat nervous as to his intentions.
"You left your keys in the cart," he said as he handed them to me, still smiling.
I sighed. I was grateful and told him so.
"I used to have keys," he told me. "I remember how much I hated to lose them."
In that moment it seemed as if a million questions passed through my mind. What had happened to bring him to his current state? Did he lose his job? Did he have a home somewhere? A family? What sorts of locks did he open with the keys he no longer had now?
But before I could say another word, he was walking away. "You have a good day, now," he said with a sideways wave.
"Thanks again. Thanks so much," I called after him.
I looked at my keys. Keys to my car(s!) and my home; keys to closets and safes. So many keys. Keys that I complain about when really, each key represents a comfort or blessing in my life.
I had never been so thankful for a bulky set of keys.
And thankful to the man who reminded me that I take too much for granted.