The woman in front of me was tall, blonde, attractive even with her dark glasses – and about eight months pregnant. One of her three purchases was a 16-ounce bottle of “Mexico Coke”: Coke made in Mexico with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup – the justification for selling it in this “health food supermarket”. It was a new concept to me a few months ago, and I’ll acknowledge that I’ve had them three times in those last few months, twice on long road trips. I rationalized that this was an experiment, to explore our product. This rationalization held up pretty well the first time, and kind of well the second time – comparing Mexico Pepsi to Mexico Coke – less well the third time, having it during a shift in the store, just because I wanted a shot of energy.
I had judgments about this young woman subjecting her baby to all this caffeine and sugar. My coworker Rex came along just as she was leaving and I allowed myself to vent. “I hope that Coke isn’t for her. I just can’t believe that’s a good thing for the baby.” By that time Maureen (I saw her name in the computer a minute later, when she had entered her frequent shopper number) had come into my line and overheard the conversation. She was black, 5’8″, maybe 30, gorgeous – and very willing to express her opinions. “Sometimes a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do.” I was taken aback by the strength of her position, especially without me asking for it. But there was no hostility in her statement, just strength – and a powerful gleam in her eye.
I stammered, “I guess it’s better for her to be energized and happy.” Maureen was just as strong in this response. “It’s not about better – it just is.” This time the Zen-like wisdom of her pronouncement was really undeniable, and I knew I was in the presence of someone who had insights well beyond what I expect from such a young person. I never knew if any of Maureen’s wisdom on the topic of pregnancy came from experiencing pregnancy herself, though for some reason I projected not – but that this in no way lessened her authority.
I did let myself do one little bit of research later in the morning. When a woman came through my line who was equally pregnant, I asked, “I hope you don’t mind me asking a somewhat personal question, but what are your thoughts about consuming caffeine while you are pregnant?” She said, “My doctor has told me that once in a while a little caffeine does no harm.”
I like to think of myself as a non-judgmental person, but then that’s a judgment isn’t it?