I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me:
I enter a grocery store (or any kind of store) to purchase one item and inevitably a fellow shopper careens into the only open check out line just ahead of me.
Also inevitably, the shopper’s cart is loaded to the gills, heaped up high.
Just as predictably the fellow shopper pretends not to see me holding my one box of cereal. Stares right past me and begins to unload their 487 purchases onto the little conveyer belt while I attempt to remain patient and not say something rude.
I’m the type who always lets people go ahead of me in line. We all have things to do and places to be. Why make someone wait when they’re just trying to get out of the store with a 4-pack of toilet paper?
I was at the grocery store the other day when I noticed a man enter the check out line right behind me.
I asked, like I always do, “Would you like to go ahead of me?”
The man hesitated. He was holding a single bottle of wine. He looked down at the bottle in his hand, as if to remind himself what he was standing in line for, and looked back up at me. He accepted my offer of a speedier exit and I thought no more of it, after all, I was busy unloading my 487 purchases (okay, maybe not exactly 487, but you know what I mean).
When my cart was unloaded I looked up to say hello to the cashier. There were four women standing there, staring at me.
“What?” I asked, feeling slightly paranoid.
The cashier asked me if I knew the man who had just paid for his bottle of wine. I shook my head, smiled, and waited for the punchline.
The cashier looked at her three coworkers, confusion evident on her face.
She waved some good old American greenbacks in the air.
“He left this money to put on your bill.”
Okay, now I was confused. I looked back and forth between the four employees who all seemed stunned by a perfect stranger who paid almost half my grocery bill.
Heck, if they looked stunned I can only imagine the shock on my face.
A simple common courtesy, something I never think twice about doing, was rewarded in a very big way.
I left the store and scanned the parking lot for a man carrying a single bottle of wine but he was long gone, as I knew he would be.
I’m assuming he was performing one of those random acts of kindness people talk about. Maybe he was “paying it forward”…who knows why he did it, but did it he did.
Heck, a simple “thank you” would have sufficed.
I’m not much of a believer in coincidence. Is there anyway this man could have known that my employer had laid me off not two hours before?
I didn’t think so either. This perfect stranger performed an act over and beyond what common courtesy deserved.
I bet he’s forgotten all about it, just another day to him. For me, it’s something I’m not likely to forget for a very long time, if ever.