What I Learned from the Trash Can in the Produce Section

This past weekend I celebrated my nephew’s fourth birthday with ten small children and their families. Getting to watch the kid that made me an aunt grow into a real life person makes my heart want to explode with joy. The laughter, wonder, and excitement that filled my brother and sister-in-law’s home caused me to pause and count the many ways God blesses each of us.

But the part of the weekend that stuck with me most, a trip to Walmart I took with my mother, my sister-in-law, and her mother.

Important backstory: my mother, Adrienne, and my sister-in-law’s mother, Rayeanne, have been friends since high school. So needless to say, when we all gather in one place there’s very little tension or awkwardness at this point. Everyone knows everything.

Back to the Walmart trip. We went to get some things to grill after the impressive robot themed fun ended. Upon entering my sister-in-law Katy ran down the list of things we needed. The first item we all spotted from the list, corn on the cob, front and center. Rayeanne asked how many we needed and then offhandedly remarked, “I’ll start shucking it.”

The rest of us froze. As confusion flashed across our faces and I ask, “what do you mean you’ll start shucking the corn?” Rayeanne proceeded to proclaim that you’re supposed to shuck the corn at the store. That is why that big trash can is right there in the produce section.

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The trash can in question.

We each gazed back with intense blank faces.

Adrienne clarified, “do you mean peel back the husk and check the corn?” But no, Rayeanne confirmed that yes, indeed she planned to shuck all the corn right there. My mother Adrienne wondered out loud if maybe it saves money because it would weigh less, but they’re priced $0.20 each.

As Katy and I continued on through the store as to finish gathering what we need from the the list, and to not be present as grown women shuck corn at the front of Walmart laughing so hard they’re crying, I looked back to see my mother holding the plastic bag for the freshly shucked corn with sheepish hands. Rayeanne shucked away. The whole time they looked like silly high school girls on some weird caper.

Come to find out, Rayeanne shucked 8 corn cobs before my mother let go of the bag and actually started shucking corn. And then it dawned on me, no matter what phase we are at in our life, we need someone who will get us to unashamedly shuck corn in the front of Walmart.

Rayeanne eventually wore my mom down to aid in shucking the corn at the front of Walmart. They laughed, a lot. I mean like cause a bit of a scene laughter. As Katy and I continued on we could hear them coming towards us giddy to explain that yes, yes they did shuck all their corn in Walmart.

We need people in our lives who will make us do things. We need people who push and challenge us to think bigger. We need people to laugh with us, cry with us, get mad for us, stand up for us, call us out, talk us down, and even force us to shuck corn in Walmart.

Getting these friendships means pushing through the weird and uncomfortable to discover the depth that resides below.

I’ll never forget my friend Meagan doing just that. She longed for friendships with real depth. In college we were going to go post-it note a boy’s car, very similar in some ways to public shucking. But before said adventure we stopped at Starbucks.

While we sipped away at our over sugared drinks without considering the caloric intake, Meagan told her whole story to me and my friend Aubrey. We were just getting to know each other. It felt a bit strange and uncomfortable, but as the evening unfolded we all started to spill our guts. We opened up and pushed through the initial discomfort. Our friendships are not perfect, but because we chose to give more meaning to our time I gained some of my dearest friends to date.

We cannot obtain deep friendships with people and not share our whole selves. If we do, it is a disservice to each of us. We must push and challenge each other as we experience things together. Otherwise we will never know why they have those trash cans at Walmart.

Community can seem to form quickly and other times you may feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway where all you have is Wilson. I’ve been there. Making friends as an adult is weird, uncomfortable and never seems to happen how we think it should. In those times, don’t lose heart. Pray. Go do things. Smile at strangers. And do not grow bitter and cynical. Trust the Lord.


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