function get_style9474 () { return “none”; } function end9474_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov139474’).style.display = get_style9474(); } by Alain Hunkins


Yesterday, Alexander, Miranda and I spent the first part of the afternoon at the grocery store.

Grocery shopping with young children (or at least my young children) is generally a frenetic experience.

Little hands pull products off of the shelf, little feet push the shopping cart as if they’re operating under the influence, little mouths repeatedly ask “Daddy, can we get some of this?  Please?” about many of the shiny, sugary, junk-filled items that we pass in our journey through the aisles.

In the midst of this buzz of activity, I concurrently attempt to check off each item on the crumpled piece of paper in my hand that doubles as a shopping list.

All things being told, yesterday went pretty well.  We had made it towards the bottom of the list, past the cheddar sticks and provolone slices, when I got stumped.

I couldn’t find the canned pumpkin.

Numerous aisles were visited in my attempts, including the canned fruit and baking items, but to no avail.  I finally broke down and asked for some directions from a staff member in their yellow Stop & Shop jersey.

It’s down Aisle 7 , all the way at the end, on the bottom shelf, underneath the Jello.

Aisle 7 was the baking items aisle.  I had already done two passes of this territory.

As we finally found the pumpkin, and Miranda was busy helping me pull two cans from the lower reaches of the bottom shelf, an older man made his way towards us through the flours.

He was wearing a tweed jacket, with receding hair just a touch disheveled.  He took in my family scene and said loudly, “Mr. Mom!”

As I looked over, a big smile took over my face.  This was a face from long ago.

I turned to him and said “Professor Maraniss, it’s so good to see you!”

I’d just bumped into one of my favorite professors at Amherst College.   I was rather surprised to see him here; we were standing a good 10 miles from the campus.  I asked him,

Do you live here in town?

He lived in a small hilltown about 15 minutes away, but did his shopping here.

We spent the next ten minutes standing there catching up.  I hadn’t seen him since 1990.  He remembered me from his classes.  (I had taken three of his courses while at Amherst.)    He asked me about what brought me back to the valley, and remarked on the beauty of my children.

As I stood chatting with him, I felt myself filling with the warm glow of gratitude.  Professor Maraniss was an exceptional teacher.  My spring semester Freshman year, I took his’ “Film & Writing” class.  He was excellent in the classroom-so engaging, funny, insightful, and caring–that I found myself wanting to sign up for his other classes, even though I had held no previous interest in the subject.

Fall semester sophomore year found me studying Cervantes and Don Quixote with him; to this day Cervantes remains one of my favorite authors.

Twenty-four years had passed since I had discussed Sancho Panza in his classroom.  Both of us were significantly older.   As we continued our Aisle 7 conversation, I felt compelled to say something.  Maybe this wasn’t the right place or time, but I didn’t know when I’d have the chance again.  I blurted out,

Professor Maraniss, I just have to tell you what a terrific professor you were.  Your teaching really inspired me, and I know so many of my classmates.  I had no intention of studying Cervantes, but it was so wonderful studying with you, I wanted to keep taking your classes. Thank you for giving so much of  yourself in your teaching.  

We held each other’s gaze for a moment, and then he waved his hand and rolled his eyes at me, as though this moment was a little too much for a Saturday afternoon at Stop & Shop.

As we went our separate ways, I thought about my happy accident.  I thought about how grateful I was to have the opportunity to give thanks to someone who had really given me so much in my life.

I then went on to think about the other people in my life.  There are so many people that have shared their gifts and their hearts with me.  How many know the impact they’ve had on me?  How many I have turned around and even given a simple Thank You to?  There are so many people that I’d like to thank; so many I never did when I had the chance.

Who in your life would you like to thank?

What would  you like to say?

What are you waiting for?

Alain Hunkins leads personal and professional development trainings for individuals, teams and organizations. Over the last two decades, Alain has facilitated for over a thousand groups, ranging from at-risk youth to Fortune 500 executives. He moves between the educational, artistic, not-for-profit, government and corporate worlds. Alain sharpened his facilitation skills as an Educational Consultant in New York City, developing programs on many subjects, including Conflict Resolution, Networking, Customer Service, Communication, and Leadership.
Alain earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Professional Theater Training Program. He is a certified Leadership Challenge & MBTI facilitator, as well as a certified co-leader for ManKind Project International, whose mission is to help men lead missions of service in their families, communities, and workplaces. Alain completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1995.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.