I was not expecting a lesson in patience and being present in the moment when I reluctantly agreed to shop with my husband at the Walmart in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to buy supplies for the Casa . Mexican Walmarts are unlike their North American partners. Huge, packed with groceries, produce, liquor, clothing and every hardware item imaginable, locals and tourists fill the aisles marked in both spanish and english.

I have ethical issues with shopping at Walmart but unfortunately for some items, they are are the only choice in Mexico. Therefore, while standing in the check out line, full of self judgement and self-consciousness about the two large shopping carts we  filled, I was given a blessed moment…

The cashier, while checking us out, had difficulty with the register, consequently resulting in an error in what we owed. After much discussion in our halting spanish, the manager was called over and she told us all of our items needed to be run through the cash register again. (We are referring to six large cartons of liquor, food items, etc…). As our impatience and frustration grew, I became aware of the long line behind us for the same register. People in line were neither moving nor showing any anger or frustration. In fact, they all were either pleasantly smiling or waiting quietly. I then noticed as the cashier began checking out each item again (to be repacked), as it was unpacked by the young girl packing groceries, the woman in line behind us… calmly and cooperatively was receiving each of our items as they were run through, and then handed them over to be repacked. When we effusively thanked her (they were not her groceries!), she just smiled neither frustrated or impatient. It was obvious that she felt she was just working as part of a team to move things along for everyone.

As I again looked back to the long line that was continuing to form, everyone was quiet and just “in the moment”. Despite the New Years’ Eve shopping frenzy, no one was complaining!

On our way home. my husband and I became aware that the typical energy we experience in Mexico is one of community and helping one another.

The North American “individualistic spirit” takes a back seat. The reminder of our choice in how we respond to a moment, either with anxiety and frustration or acceptance and generousity will certainly live in me next time I am standing in line at my local grocery store.