‘Set in ways’ leads to too much sitting

Published 2:10 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sylvia is back. When I walked through the door, I saw her patiently ringing up and bagging people’s stuff. There was a pretty long line waiting for her so she wasn’t paying attention to who was coming and going.

As I pushed my buggy, I wondered where she’d been for the last few weeks. Interesting that I’d noticed the absence of someone I hardly knew, but shopping the other day I thought that the nice lady who usually worked the checkout was missing.

After I gathered my items, I joined Sylvia’s line. When I started taking things out of the buggy, she looked up and gave me one of her sweet smiles. It felt like the smile you get when you see a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

“How are you?” she said, dragging a bag of frozen blueberries across the scanner.

“I’m fine,” I said. “You haven’t been here for a while. Glad to see you again.”

“I am glad to be here,” she answered.

Then she explained she wasn’t working because of a problem with her eye that required surgery and recovery time.

“It took six weeks,” she said. “I finally told them I had to get back to work.”

She said she missed seeing everyone. I told her we missed her, too.

Seems she couldn’t do much while she was out of work but sit and read. That led us into a conversation about reading and routines. The talk about routines was one I had with myself that very morning.

I’d scolded myself for not being more open to shaking up my routine, something that seems to be happening with regularity these days. More times than not, I choose hanging out in my comfortable chair over doing something more adventurous.

I shared that thought with Sylvia. She laughed and said she knew exactly what I meant.

“I wasn’t always like that,” she said. “I used to be ready to go anytime.”

“Me too,” I said. “Now I like staying in my routine. I like that more the older I get.”

I remember my daddy talking about being, “set in your ways.” I guess that was what Sylvia and I meant by routine. Perhaps, that is part of the aging process.

Now routine is good when you are getting kids to school, yourself to work, bills paid, groceries bought, house cleaned etc. Maybe routine without any alteration is not so great when it glues your butt to a chair because shaking it up is too much effort.

Not that I don’t have good intentions; I do. I’ll think about the things I want to do, or where I might like to go. Get all fired up.

Then when it actually comes to doing what needs doing to do whatever it was I thought I wanted to do — well it is easier to sit in my comfortable chair and stay in my comfortable routine. I’m betting Sylvia would agree with me.

We talked for a few more minutes about what we like to do inside our routine lives. Reading topped the list, and we shared how it’s been a lifelong love affair for both of us. Then we laughed about how we react to the impossible suggestion that we part with any of our beloved books.

“Well, I’m happy you are back,” I said as I swiped my card and paid for my purchases. “I missed seeing you.”

She gave me another one of her sweet smiles as she started ringing up the person in line behind me. I waved goodbye over my shoulder and headed for the door.

Loading the car, I thought how interesting it is that people are part of my routine, even people I see only at a checkout. Funny how the world feels “righter” when one of those people who was missing returns.

Yep, Sylvia’s back and I’m glad. Not just because she fits into my routine, but also because it was nice to see her smile again.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.