Methodically and precisely the former fighter pilot in World War II steered his grocery-cart scooter into the checkout lane. He grimaced as he gripped the soup can in his cart. The pain shot through his frail 85-year-old hand like so many bullets. Wincing, he dropped the can of soup on the conveyor belt with a thud!
The sound caught the attention of the customer in front of him. The 40-year-old abruptly turned his attention from the cashier scanning his groceries to the elderly man behind him. The younger man seemed captivated both by the cap the octogenarian wore and the compelling message it bore: WWII Veteran. Something stirred deep in the soul of the younger man.
Something seared deep into his memory. He felt a sudden urge that he could no longer contain.
(This is an excerpt of a newly relaunched book titled
LOVING Like a Leader now available on Amazon.com
Intuitively or— instinctively more than impulsively—the younger man thrust his hand out almost as if he were to salute the Veteran.
But then he paused, grabbed the hand of the frail man and shook it earnestly. He looked deep into the eyes of the man old enough to be his grandfather and beamed with as much patriotism as pride: “Thank you for your service to our country.”
The Veteran smiled when he found his feeble hand engulfed in the younger man’s grip.Suddenly the cold shot of pain in his hand dissipated in the soothing warmth of the younger man’s hand.
And for at least a few seconds the World War II Veteran felt the burden easing on his heart of so many painful memories of so many dear friends lost in their collective quest to stand up for their country.
The two men seemed so different, rooted in their deep generational divide and so far apart in their lifestyles. Yet in this moment, in this place, they became one. In those few seconds another human—a stranger no less—had recognized and rewarded him for his valor and values and literally reached out to him.
And together in this most ordinary place doing the most ordinary thing they made love in a business context. They appreciated each other. They regarded each other. They added value to each other.
They shared a common belief, a common passion, a common purpose and a shared conviction.They demonstrated an affection, an admiration and maybe even a love for each other. On this Veteran’s Day –and every day– love those who served wherever they are today and turn an ordinary transaction into an extraordinary interaction. Even in a checkout lane.