Learning Patience This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

After a long day of shopping, all my mom, sisterand I wanted to do was go home. We unloaded our items onto the counterand I noticed the cashier checked them very slowly. My immediateresponse was annoyance. I looked to my mom, who had the same reaction. Ireturned my attention to the items in the cart and realized why thingswere going so slowly.

The cashier was young, with short brownhair matted beneath a baseball cap. His dark brown eyes lookedconcentrated, yet confused. His face seemed gentle and determined. Inoticed he had the use of only one arm. Trying not to stare, I studiedhis every movement. Scanning each item was a small battle for him.Struggling, he removed a shirt from a hanger with only one hand. Iwanted to scan the items for him, but I knew I could not. I removed thehangers from the other shirts and handed them to him. He accepted thehangers graciously, though his eyes hinted at embarrassment.

Thetoughest battle for this young man was a nine-package pile of loose-leafpaper. In an attempt to help I told him how many packages we had. Hescanned one, and added eight to the computer. With ease, I lifted thepile of paper with two hands, which he received with only one.Immediately I regretted my action as I watched him struggle toone-handedly bag the paper. He conquered it and dropped it into the bag.As he gave our total, the concentrated look left his eyes and herelaxed. The battle was over. Returning my change and smiling shyly, herecited, "Have a nice day, and thank you for shoppinghere!"

As I loaded the bags into the car, I thought about all theeffort that man put into packing each one. He had to work twice as hardto do something so simple. I wondered what life must be like for him.Simple things are not so easy for someone with physical difficulty. Irecalled the concentration and determination in his eyes while he wasscanning each item. I thought about how easy it was for me to lift thatpile of paper, and how difficult it was for him. I hoped I had notoffended him when I removed the hangers from the shirts.

Thecashier taught me a lesson; we all have our weaknesses to overcome, wejust need the courage and perseverance to conquer them. His physical andemotional strength amazed me, and his determination inspired me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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