Monday, August 12, 2013

SUCH A SMALL PRICE TO PAY

I always go to the wrong checkout line at the grocery store.  Never fail, I pick the wrong line.  Inevitably I end up in the line with the cashier in training, who takes double the time to check people out with their groceries, because she’s learning.  I seem to be drawn to the line; behind someone who has a purse bulging with coupons, needing them scanned individually or who has been dumpster diving for coupons and they are burning a hole in their wallet.  Occasionally I get behind people who don’t have enough money to pay for their purchase, so they have to recalculate and put things away until they reach a point that their food items, match the money in their purse.  This was one of those days and I’d like to share this story with you.

I didn’t want to take much time in the grocery store because I needed to get home to prepare dinner.  I only had a few items that I needed to purchase and I felt pretty certain that I would get in and out of the grocery store within a 15 minute window.  I knew the layout of the store, grabbed my few grocery items, and proceeded to the shortest checkout line.  Ahead of me was a cute little old silvery haired woman that I had seen, rolling through the isles of the store in the electric scooter.  Her few items were in the scooter basket, and she was taking out each item, setting them on the check out counter.  The problem began after the scanning was complete and the store checker announced the total amount of her purchase.  I heard an audible gasp, as she began fumbling through her purse, looking for extra change that had dropped to the bottom.  She laid all the found coins on the counter for the checker, but after counting, she was still short.  The checker was friendly and cute and proceeded to try to ease the embarrassment or her customer, suggesting that maybe some of her items could be saved for another shopping day.  A bit frazzled, this little woman, started sifting through the sacks to see what she could put back.  Out loud, she accounted for every item saying, “I need this for dinner, can’t make my casserole without this soup, and I need everyone of these prescriptions.”  There was nothing she could could put back, and needed everything, yet she didn’t have enough money to pay for it.

In the meantime, behind both of us, were three other grocery shoppers, who were wrestling with their children, and seemed obviously annoyed that this little old woman was taking so much time.  I was uncomfortable too, but not for myself and my own time constraints, but because I could see that this little old woman needed everything in those shopping bags, and didn’t know what to do.  She even mentioned that her ride home was out sitting in the car, and perhaps the checker could wait for her to go out to the car to see if her ride had any money to contribute. It was then that someone behind me let out a loud and frustrated sigh, and if she had a horn in her hands, it would be honking.   

My heart began to pound fast,  and a lump in my throat grew as I felt compelled to take action.  I knew what I had to do and as quietly as I could, I asked the cashier how much more the old woman needed to complete her purchase.  She told me it was just a little over $6.00.  I knew that I was all out of change, but asked the cashier if she could put the balance of her purchase on my purchase and I would pay for it.  She smiled at me and said, “Sure”, looked at the little old woman, and took the amount of money that was lying on the counter and said, “Paid in full”. 
The old woman was startled, and said, “But I don’t have enough!”
The cashier said, “It’s been taken care of.” Before I could get the cashiers attention to tell her to not say anything, she continued, “ paid by the woman behind you .” 

Oh how I wished that she hadn’t revealed that tiny piece of information, thinking this woman could have somehow thought that the food items she bought were on a 1 minute special sale or that she was the 100,000 shopper and won that as her prize.  Maybe the cashier could have pretended that she had miscounted the change, and it ended up being exactly enough, but my little secret deed was revealed.
Then I saw the old woman try to turn her silvery gray head around to see me.  She seemed stiff and could only turn her neck half way, but as I looked at her profile, I saw tears welled up in her eyes and streaming down her face.  She uttered the words, “Thank-you!”  Speaking she suggested that d that if I would follow her out to her car, she could write down my name and address, and send me the money in the mail.

I laughed and said, “Today is your lucky day, and there is no need to worry about paying me back.”
She said, “Oh, but I can’t take your money!”

I told her that she wasn’t taking anything, because it was a gift for being such a lovely person.  I went on, “I hope that you have a wonderful day, because you have made mine very happy!”
She wiped her nose and face, and with a sniff, repeated in whispers, "Thank-you, thank you so very much... how can I ever repay you?”

By then, I had such a good feeling all over me, and tears were in my eyes that I told her “No, it is you I need to thank,  but if you feel you must repay me, then pass this gift on, to someone else you find in need!”  She shook her head up and down, understanding what I had said, as the bagger lifted her groceries sacks into her scooter basket,. and walked with her to assist putting the groceries into the car. 
 
My groceries only took a minute to scan and pay for, and I was out the sliding doors walking toward my car.  I noticed this darling little silvery haired woman getting into the car parked right next to me, telling the driver of the car about the experience she had in the store.  She was still crying and wiping tears as she spoke. 

My heart was warm, as I refreshed in my mind, the events that has just happened inside the store.  I felt so good in side.  I needed that experience that day because it lifted my spirits and I thought about how blessed I am to have my health, enough money to pay for all the necessities of life and so much more.  I am so glad that I acted upon the promptings I had received.  Such a small price to pay, and I received so much more than I gave. 
If you want to be happy, give something away!