“Paper or plastic, sir?” asked the cashier, a middle-aged woman with a friendly face. I stumble a bit, struggling for a few seconds on plastic. It was just enough for me to get a smirk, a thought the woman had about why it took me so long to answer such a simple question.
I could’ve bitten back with a sharp response, of which younger me would have wanted to do. But, I carried on with the exchange as she packed my groceries in plastic bags.
“Did you find everything okay this morning?” she continued. I’m never one to carry on with someone who I detect negative feedback but I responded that I had. A few more questions hurled my way, though my answers don’t really matter until she landed on, “do you know any good breakfast places around here? They said they were going to order us breakfast today and they’re two hours late. I need something quick, and I’m not from around here.”
Most times, I decline to entertain starving questions in these types of fleeting exchanges, yet I didn’t. I’m not a cold guy. I like to do my business quick, and get in and out, though I do attribute much of this demeanor to how stuttering groomed my personality.
I responded, “why isn’t this your lucky day…there is a bagel joint just three blocks away. They have the best bagel breakfast sandwiches in town. Everything bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese…let me tell you.” With a smile, I encouraged her to give it a try and reached for the receipt.
“Thank you, enjoy that bagel!” I said to her as I grabbed the cart to leave.
I hadn’t even thought about stuttering since the cashier’s brief smirk, a lasting measure of the progress I have made using opportunities just like this moment that allow my personality to shine through.