When Grocery-Store Pranksters Grow Up

In my last post, I told the sweet and unusual story of two high-school girls who decided to surprise me by rearranging my purchases in the grocery store checkout line. What happened next, the reasons for it and the delight it produced are detailed in The Lingering Joys of Camp Retro.

As so often happens in the blogging world, I’d barely posted their story when I was introduced by Richard of One More Good Adventure to another young woman, a professional who clearly had navigated the rough waters of high school and college and found success.  Watching her carry out her own sweet and unusual mission, I couldn’t help but think of my two young friends. “Even when they’re all grown up,” I thought, “they’ll still be doing such things. They’re going to be just like her.”

And if they are, the world will be a far better place. They will understand the power of words, and the importance of compassionate deeds. What more could we ask of any generation?



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26 thoughts on “When Grocery-Store Pranksters Grow Up

  1. In conversations with people in general but especially with my daughter I try my best to keep out the negatives. For example, instead of framing a warning negatively: Don’t burn yourself on that stove! – I’ll say instead: Keep away from that hot pan. It might have as much effect, but I think it sounds a lot less like nagging.

    1. Ian,

      Exactly. I often do the same with my Mom. She’s gotten awfully forgetful of late, and in frustration will say, “I’m so stupid!” I’ll tell her, “No, you’re not stupid. You’ve just forgotten how to (whatever)”. And then we work it out.

      Of course, the best example from my own life still is the transformation wrought by my sailing instructor who said, “On this boat, you’ll never say, ‘I can’t’. Instead, you’ll always ask, ‘How can I?’.” Change the words, change a world-view.


    1. Bella,

      I mentioned to someone earlier today the old rhyme from our childhood: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I guess we’ve learned the truth about that one. ;-)

      I’m always so behind the curve I’m afraid everyone’s seen the things I finally notice. Glad I could show this one to you!


    1. belle,

      Me, too. But weepy in a good way. It’s a very powerfully done piece. I really was taken when I saw it, and wanted it share it just for what it was, as well as for its relationship to my post about the girls.

      I’m glad you appreciated it, and thanks for stopping by!


  2. I enjoyed your grocery store items post. Sound like sweet girls. The video in this one brought tears to my eyes. Very touching and one I’ll have to share.

    1. sherri,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the story of “Camp Retro”. The girls were a delight, and this video certainly captured something of the nature of the girls I met.

      Some things do seem to want to be shared, don’t they? Thanks for sharing a comment!


    1. Claudia,

      Isn’t this just the very antithesis of those “Jdiel eyshen sowkke” conversations we have with ourselves? I almost told you about the video when I stopped by the other day, but decided to let you discover it on your own.

      It’s a treasure, for sure. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  3. The power of rhetoric! I love that video. It really only takes a little thought, reflection. observation, and connection with the people around us, to see what can be done. It’s simple really, isn’t it?

    1. Ruth,

      It is simple. And something else occurs to me as I re-watch it. The video seems to represent visually not only the power of words, but the power of space and silence to frame words. In short, it’s as poetic as a poem.

      That’s part of the reason your format is so effective. You not only give us the words of your poems, you give the words themselves room to stretch and breathe. Visual rhetoric.


    1. ds,

      Perfection, indeed, down to the man’s gesture of touching the woman’s shoes the first time she stops, and then recognizing her in the same way when she returns. Nothing left out, nothing unnecessary – what a lesson!


  4. This is lovely, Linda, not just the heart of it. The whole thing shows what we’ve been talking about throughout, the power of words. What more, it’s not just words, for the original sign was made up of words too. But the new version is the psychological effects of arranging words in a way that can evoke the most resonance. That’s inspiration.

    1. Arti,

      Now and then I toy with writing a post called “Writer’s Intuition”. When I began this blog my tagline was “A new writer’s search for just the right word”. Later, I changed it to its current form, “A writer’s on-going search for just the right word”. Somehow, I knew the difference between just any word and the “right” word long before I was willing to call myself a writer.

      All of which is simply to affirm your point – that arranging words to evoke the most resonance is the task, and the film-maker has done us the great favor of showing us the process rather than telling us about it.

      Now that I think of it, that’s rather your point about books and their film adaptations!


  5. This video is my latest favorite, and such an important reminder of the way the right words can help you find a new perspective … something I always find in your gentle essays and encouraging comments. Thanks so much!

    1. anno,

      Sometimes we seem to accept it as a given that behavior has consequences, while forgetting that words – verbal behavior – also have consequences.
      Words are the tools we use to build the world we live in – this video’s a wonderful reminder of that.

      I’m so pleased you stopped by. I do hope Spring finally is unfolding for you!


  6. Once you get on a theme as a blogger, it can keep going, can’t it! Very nice video, and I’ve been to Richard’s blog, too. And furthermore, I’ve put a link to your blog, Richard’s blog and a direct link to the video on Youtube as well on my Facebook page…

    1. Andrew,

      I think it’s partly the vaunted serendipity – getting on those “themes” – and partly the same dynamic that appears when we learn a new word. Yesterday “tumulous” popped into my mind and I had to go to the dictionary to see if it was a real word. It is, and I’ve seen it in another article now, less than 12 hours later. Strange, and delightful.

      Thanks for the mention. The video certainly deserves wide distribution, for its artistic merit as well as its message.


  7. Both your Camp Retro post and this one seem to be about learning how to see, and what can happen when we see things even just a little differently. It really takes a small shift in attitude to make a stranger smile at the grocery store, or fill a blind man’s pocket. Thank you, Linda, for both.

    1. bronxboy,

      That’s it, exactly – a change in tone, a change in words, a different gesture, and everything seems to fall into place.

      There’s one detail in the video I find compelling. Even after the woman tells the blind man she said the same thing, but with different words, he doesn’t know what those words are. And it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t change a thing about the video – it seems perfect to me as it is – but that one fact is interesting.

      And by the way, that key lime gelato? It’s CiaoBella. I got curious tonight and went to their website, and discovered it was born in New York’s Little Italy in 1986. It’s a bit of your world come to mine!


  8. Even though I’m a month late, I loved this post and the YouTube movie so much I had to tell you.

    I also know and love Ciao Bella gelato – we get it here in L.A. BUT I haven’t tried the key lime. Will get it next time.

    1. dearrosie,

      You’re never late around here! Even when I’m writing about current events, like the flooding Mississippi, I try and do it in such a way that the post will be interesting far into the future. Some of my most active posts were written a year or two ago and get the bulk of their readers now from search terms. Amazing.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m especially glad you told me. I can guarantee you’ll like the Key Lime even more!


  9. Linda, I thought I had commented on this wonderful post… It touched me very much. Words, the ones you choose and the way you express them are so important, either when you write or talk. They can be like rays of sun or totally devastating. Thank you so much for your own words that I truly enjoy reading and reflecting upon.

    1. Isa,

      I’m glad to know you saw this. Gentle use of language is one of your gifts, which I appreciate very much.

      How we use words in our “real worlds” is one thing, but I often think we’re not careful enough with them on the internet. There was a wonderful little slogan going around some months ago that said, “Google before you tweet is the new think before you speak”. Sage advice.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. As I told Rosie, the door’s always open. ;-)


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