Say what you will about the evils of Wal-Mart; I learned an invaluable lesson behind its wonderful sliding doors. I was five years old, fresh out of preschool, when I took it upon myself to explore Wal-Mart’s vast and mysterious aisles. I managed to climb from my perch in that prison-like cart to experience my first minutes of freedom. Venturing up and down aisle after aisle, I passed clothing, toys and kitchenware before I reached the Holy Land. Yes, this was the plant aisle. I had always loved to pick flowers from my mother’s carefully tended garden. On this day, I marveled at those Venus flytraps, and even dared to press my finger to the needle of a cactus.
My adventure came to a panicked halt when I realized I was lost in foreign territory. All the aisles looked the same, and I was too young to fend for myself in this dangerous land of grown-ups. A wave of relief passed over me as I saw my mother’s familiar haircut and her wonderfully worn “mommy jeans.” Grinning with delight at having found mommy all by myself, I ran to embrace her. As I wrapped my arms around her legs, I came to a horrifying realization. This woman was not my mother, but a terrible impostor! My glee quickly turned to embarrassment and shame as the look-alike peered down at me with a surprised smile. The fraud glanced about and directed me, with a point of her finger, to my mother who stood laughing across the way.
Until today the memory of this encounter brought a sheepish smile to my face. Upon reflection, I realize why this seemingly insignificant event has stayed with me all these years. Situations like this encourage my belief in helping the lost. The mommy-impostor could have giggled cruelly at my plight, as my mother did, but she instead provided guidance in my moment of terror. I believe in support; in helping the woeful wanderer.
Whether trapped in a maze of streets, caught in a difficult relationship, or imprisoned by one’s own thoughts, the lost can be found with a few kind words of advice. I believe in aiding those who have gone astray. I am confident some day, when I find myself lost in something greater than a supermarket, I will run in to a kind person similarly inclined to lend a hand.
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