Mahmood Jawaid

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July 26, 2009 The Charleston Gazette

Essays on faith

West Virginia is Indeed ‘Almost Heaven’

By Mahmood Jawaid

When I go to Kroger for shopping in Dunbar, I make a point to observe this girl for a while, who is probably in high school. No, not because she is beautiful. No, I am not in love with her. I am amazed at the enthusiasm she shows with every customer. She is always bubbling with energy and enthusiastically serves every customer.

Today, I was there to buy bread. There was a big line in the self-checkout lanes. So I headed to the shortest line served by the counter clerks and there she was. Since I had only one item, the lady in front of me let me go first. There was a handicapped man in front of me in a wheel chair. As usual, she dealt with him enthusiastically and gave him a hug. Since I believe in appreciating a thing when I see something good, when my turn came, I told her how much I appreciated her enthusiasm, choosing my words carefully so that they would not be considered a pass. She appreciated it very much. Thank God, she did not give me a hug. I was not ready for that yet. I came out feeling good, since I was planning to do this for a long time.                                                                                  

My wife was waiting outside in the car. She then drove me to Aldi. She wanted me to buy bananas. In fact, that is why she had volunteered to drive. I went in and grabbed a bag of bananas and headed to the check out. Since my wife was waiting outside, I wanted to do a quick checkout. But there was a big line. Luckily, when I arrived, the manger announced that he was opening another counter. Two of us in the line headed for the new counter, me with a bag of bananas and this old lady with a cart full of groceries.

Somehow, she thought of a different counter, so I beat her and was the first in line. While waiting for the clerk, I pulled out a five-dollar bill to pay for the bananas. I then started feeling bad for gypping the lady, since she was ahead of me in the previous lane. So I asked her if I could help her unload her cart. She nodded and said that is good because she was buying the groceries for someone else. I said, in that case here is my five-dollar contribution for the groceries. She refused and told me that it was for her brother, who is old and diabetic. She did asked me to pray for him, though. I promised and asked her to ask him to pray for me, too.

By that time the clerk came and asked me if I am only buying bananas. I jokingly said, yes, my wife said, "we have no bananas" (a song) so I am buying bananas for her. When I finished paying, the same lady who was behind me said, "Thank you, you gave me a good song today." I knew then and there that my day was made. I must go home and enjoy the bliss.

It was now midnight. We had just finished celebrating the signing of a contract for a house with a family friend. Since we will need quite a few boxes for the move, my wife suggested that we should go to Wal-Mart to grab some boxes. So we went and were greeted by a middle-aged, cheerful lady. I asked her if she will need coffee to stay awake all night. She replied, no, she only drinks a cup of coffee a day. She told me that greeting people gives her so much joy that she does not need any caffeine. I was astonished the way my day had ended, and hit the sack.

It was now late Sunday afternoon. I headed for the complex swimming pool. One of my distant neighbors was barbecuing. I don't even know his name. Except for a greeting or two, we had hardly held any conversation. While passing him by, I admired his barbecue and moved on. While swimming laps, I noticed that a sweet blond girl (about 7 years old) was standing at midpoint by the pool holding something shiny and flat and staring at me. I started feeling good that someone is admiring my swimming. When I finished the lap and was about to dive back into water, my distant neighbor whose barbecue I had just admired was standing there with the same thing the girl had in her hand. It was a plate wrapped in aluminum foil. He told me that he brought the barbecue for me and will place it on the table. Giving me barbecue was one thing, walking all the way from his apartment to the swimming pool was another thing.

While continuing my swimming, I was thinking, "West Virginia is indeed 'Almost Heaven.' Only in Heaven do I expect to find so many good people."

Jawaid is a writer who lives in Dunbar

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