There’s a grocery store two blocks away from me that I passionately despise.
I know, strong words for something as trivial as a grocery store, but this place is little, run down, always has too many people in line and is the most expensive chain in town. It’s mind-boggling. And true. And I avoid this store at all costs. But on the occasion where you just need a couple of things, it’s hard to justify going out-of-the-way to the nicer stores, like Walmart Grocery… because THE WALMART GROCERY STORE IS NICER THAN THIS PLACE. Deep sigh.
Anywho, last night, I just needed to pick up a couple of things on the way to a friend’s house. I tried to psych myself up on the way home from work, while letting the dog out and on that short drive to the grocery store. I got a close spot to the door, I found everything I needed right away (because now I know where they hide things like cheese – hint – NOT in the dairy section) and I quickly made my way to the checkout.
And as I was approaching the check out line, there was another guy approaching. I did that quick review to see what he was carrying and to size him up to see if I was going to be able to sneak in front of him all stealth like.
Don’t lie, you do it too.
Well, this guy was carrying nothing and was in military garb (Army Camo, which I thought was Air Force until I confirmed the pattern on google today. Worst. Citizen. Ever.). Granted, I hate this grocery store and I wanted to get out ASAP, but I’m no jerk, so I let him in front of me like a decent human being.
And that’s when three small-ish children rush up with a Gatorade in one hand and candy bar in the other.
At first I was outraged. Which, is a total over-reaction, but I’m being honest here. Where did these three hooligans come from? Where was this man hiding them? HOW DARE THIS AMAZING SERVICE MAN SNEAKY SNEAK INTO LINE IN FRONT OF ME WITH HIS THREE CHILDREN AND SIX ITEMS!
And then these boys started giggling and laughing and teasing each other and their dad.
And my grinch heart melted.
And it totally reminded me of the times my dad would take my brothers and I to the grocery store and let us pick any flavor of Shasta we wanted. Which, may sound silly, but absolutely meant the world to me. And that memory? Almost made me cry in the grocery store line and made me feel totally compelled to buy this strangers groceries.
So, I became a bumbling awkward stranger trying to ask the cashier if I could please pay for his groceries to thank him for the smile, for reminding me of my family that I don’t often get to see and for his service to our country. The cashier was shocked. The man was shocked. I felt super awkward.
And then I handed my card over.
And it got declined.
Oh you read that right. That perfect awkward moment of random kindness? Yup. Got more awkward as I tried to joke about “Wouldn’t it be funny if I asked to pay for your groceries and I couldn’t? But seriously. I can. Please run it again. There’s money on this card…I mean, there should be, it’s a high credit limit and I never spend to my credit limit because I believe in paying off whatever you put on credit cards right away…”
(These are the times I fly out of my body and look at myself from above and think BETSY STOP TALKING. But I can’t. And you’re welcome. Because it makes watching it from afar waaaaaay more hilarious.)
The cashier runs the card again. I pay for his items. He shakes my hand, says thank you, I thank him again for everything he does for me and then he and those cute little hooligans were out of the store.
And I paid for my four items and the sacker looked into my eyes while handing me my bag and thanked me for doing something so nice. I smiled and then ran out of the store (still trying to get over the awkward word vomit and the whole ‘my card got fake declined’ thing) and I climbed into my car in my great parking spot.
And I smiled.
Because for $10:
- I just made a strangers day a little better… and most definitely weirder.
- I shocked someone who stands at a counter and sees the same boring groceries roll by her face all day long.
- I touched someone who hands people bagged groceries thanklessly all day long.
And it felt good.
Don’t be afraid to be weird and do something nice today.
And if you have cash on you, it might be for the best.