By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Buckets And Smiles
Mommy Musings 09-28-2022

Can we all just take a minute to both acknowledge and appreciate how nice it is to see faces again? I’m not talking eyes over masks, I’m talking smiles, teeth, noses … faces!

I thought about this most recently as I stood in line at a local grocery store and watched a clerk struggle with little interaction or apology to the customer who stood before him. Now granted the problems he was encountering may not have been his fault, nor the fault of the woman he was helping. It’s the day and age of computers after all, and well, glitches do happen.

Hitting the market at what appeared to be a peak hour, all registers were backed up with lines, so rather than line jumping to try and find the “faster” one, I chose to stay where I was and just wait it out.

As I did, I could not help but notice the awkward silence which was at the head of the slow up. As the clerk fussed with the machine, talking to a co-worker and struggling some more, never at any time did he say a word to the woman in front of him. This troubled me.

Later recalling the interaction with a friend, the analyst in me wondered why?

Perhaps it had something to do with being the child of a parent who earned a living as a grocery clerk, many years ago. A job which provided well for our two-person family, helped put braces on my teeth and kept me clothed with the best of them in high school.

To this day, my kids swear I can bag groceries better than the people at the market. While I’ve not personally had a grocery store job, I did spend a fair share of my childhood in one waiting for my mom in some form or another.

It may come as surprise to some, but even as a grocery clerk in a San Francisco market my mom was always friendly to her customers, often knowing many of them by name. Yes, even in a city as big as San Francisco, grocery stores have their “regulars.”

First getting my start in retail at the age of 16, I was always told “without customers we have no reason to show up.” That stuck with me then and still does today. We need readers, advertisers and yes, subscribers to keep the press printing.

What I thought about however, after that recent encounter was about that time, not so long ago, that we craved interaction with other humans. A time when many of us cursed those masks and simply couldn’t wait to see faces again. So now, here we are. Yet sadly I fear that the aftermath may take longer than we might have thought to recover from.

I may also be hypersensitive to this as I recently finished the book, “How to Fill Your Bucket,” by Tom Rath. In the book, Rath shares approaches to living life in a way which fills the bucket (adds to) of someone’s life versus taking from their bucket.

The art of this is the way in which one small thing (think the pay it forward at Starbucks) can make such a positive impact on another that they in turn do the same. In short, it’s an intentional way of living which can then spread to others and so on and so on.

One great example given in the book came by way of a teenager and his parents. Noting the parents’ feedback when it came to the student’s grades and how they approached a less than favorable grade. Leading with the highlights and circling back to discuss the areas which needed improvement.

Yes, I know this is not rocket science, but I can honestly say as a busy mom of two teens I sometimes forget this and am grateful for the reminder. It is after all, as the saying goes, you do get more with sugar than vinegar.

Which brings me back to my hope for all of us. Can we all just simply take a minute to appreciate that we are out and about again. Once again able to interact with other humans, sans mask, no longer distanced by strips of tape telling us where to stand. This was our life not that long ago.

But now, now is our time to make up for lost ground. Now is the time to smile at a stranger, hold a door or two and maybe just let someone go ahead of you in line. Why? Well, why not? After all, your simple act might have a much grander effect on someone you don’t even know who might desperately need it. Go do good.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.