Shopping With a Hundred-Dollar Bill

Last week I did some shopping and was taught a lesson in patience. I went to get some supplies and the total came to $80.53. Knowing that my husband likes me to use cash, I gave the cashier a one hundred-dollar bill.

The cashier was having a tough day as it was, I could tell. I had waited in line for quite a while myself and was feeling a little impatient. “Having a busy day?” I said, trying to make light of the circumstances. “It’s always a busy day”, she said, “And it’s Friday”.

one hundred dollar bill I felt bad for her and could feel the stress mounting.

As she scrambled to make the change, I could tell there was a problem.

She shouted to the cashier next to her, “I need some change, I can’t change this one hundred-dollar bill”. By then my own hands were starting to get sweaty.

I glanced up at the lady behind me in line. She had a cart load of things on the conveyor belt and looked as if she was going to burst a blood vessel.

look of disgust

The cashier didn’t get an immediate response from her team member, then her fellow cashier said, “You’ll have to call the manager. I can’t give you any change from my drawer”.

The cashier flipped on her light and it started blinking. I started to panic.

The lady behind me in line overheard this conversation and was now looking at me with disgust as if she were saying, “Why can’t you use a card like everyone else and keep this line moving!”

I started to feel sweat trickle down my neck. I asked the cashier if she had a twenty-dollar bill in her drawer.

She said yes and I thought, “All I have to do is give her fifty-three cents and she can give me the twenty-dollar bill and this will all be over”.


I looked in the change compartment of my wallet, nope, only thirty cents.

I grabbed my purse and started to throw things out of it into the shopping cart.

Maybe there was a quarter down there somewhere? Sunglasses, coupon organizer, wallet, extra sunglasses, lip gloss….. nope, no quarter.

Suddenly the woman behind me in line said, “What’s the problem?” I told her how I had paid cash and didn’t have enough money to complete the transaction.

She said, “How much do you need?” “What?”, I said. I wasn’t sure I was hearing her correctly.

She spoke a little louder, “How much do you need?!” I told her I just needed a quarter. She picked up her purse and dug in her change compartment for a quarter and thrust it at me and said, “Here!” Like let’s get going!

impatients I thanked her for the quarter and she shot me another look.

The cashier gave me the twenty-dollar bill for change and I was moving.

For some reason I was feeling a little ashamed of myself for holding up the line. Why did I feel that way?

According to an article by the New York Times, Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line and don’t like it.

And it’s not just today’s fast paced society. In the 1950’s , people who worked in high-rises were complaining that it took too long for the elevator to reach their floor.

Mirrors were put by the elevators so people had something to do while waiting. The complaints ceased almost overnight.

waitingThat is why we now see screens at checkout lanes and at gas station pumps. If given something to do, we tend to complain much less.

Patience has always been a problem, even in Biblical times.

In Exodus 32:1, the Israelites were impatient with Moses for taking so long to come down from the mountain when speaking to God.

In the book of Job, both Job and his friends were impatient. In Job 4:2 NLT, one of Jobs friends says, “Will you be patient and let me say a word?”

Job later responds in 21:4 NLT, “My complaint is with God, not with people. I have good reason to be so impatient”. But do we?

What will happen to us if we have to wait 5 to 10 minutes? Will we pass out from stress? Will that do any good?

In times of stress and impatience, we need to be reminded to look to God. Ask God what you need. In prayer, ask him to give you patience.

patience Eunice

We need to remind ourselves that God’s time is not our time. When we want something from him, we expect it now. But sometimes it takes months, years, even a life time to hear from God.

One thing is certain, God is always there, he hears each and every one of our prayers and petitions. This just  may not be the right time for you to have your request granted.

serenity prayer

In the book of Isaiah we are reminded about patience.

Isaiah 60:22 NLT says, ” the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

And who can forget the serenity prayer? Some things we just cannot speed up, we cannot change. This prayer offers us peace, a chance to say to God, “I’m patiently waiting”.

God knows what is best for us but sometimes we are convinced that it needs to be now, not years down the road.

worries to God

Use prayer as your outlet for patience. As 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give your worries to God because he cares for you”.

In the mean time, after my recent shopping experience, I don’t think I’ll go shopping with a hundred-dollar bill again anytime soon.

My lesson in patience taught me that everyone has trouble with it too. Especially on a Friday.


Author: jmlarcom

Student of Theology at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Mn.

3 thoughts on “Shopping With a Hundred-Dollar Bill”

  1. Well said! None of us are really aware of how we spend those moments, besides being totally self absorbed. Putting our thoughts on God could help us to be more gracious and kind. Besides, becoming a creative thinker with these pockets of time would probably be more useful than watching gas-pump TV ads!

    Liked by 1 person

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