At the grocery store the other day, Geoff and I were in line behind a petite energetic young woman who was loading up the conveyer belt with tons of food. She and the cashier knew one another, it was obvious. They were chatting about the kids, how they're doing, what the summer has been like for everyone, how her 13 month old just started more than walking, almost running. Her husband is getting ready to depart for his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Career Army, four kids, fourth tour, she held her fingers up crossed with a big smile on her face and said "here's to hoping it's the last one!"
Her total came to $212.68, and she only had $200 cash on her. She started to pick through her food to decide what was going back. There wasn't any "crap" food on the conveyor, lots of fresh veg and three gallons of milk. If she had a bunch of junk food, I probably wouldn't have done what I did.
I reached into my purse, where usually there are zero dollars since I use my ATM Card all the time, and lo and behold there was $13 in there in ones and fives.
I handed the cashier the money.
The cashier and the woman both looked at me. I said "there ya go. I'll give you my phone number and you can call me and pay me back whenever."
"I can't take that from you." she said, of course.
"Yeah you can. It's alright. I got ice cream back here and a 16 year old who will be horribly disappointed if it gets all melted so. It's okay. We'll figure something out for later."
The cashier went to hand me back the change and I pointed to the woman, "Give it to her so it stays an even amount instead of Twelve bucks and some change, which neither of us will remember."
She headed out to the car, and told me where she was parked so I could come out to her. The cashier looked at me with big blue eyes and said "I've never seen anyone do something that nice for someone in my life."
I think she must live a sad life.
"Well, I didn't pay for all her groceries. That would have been epic. But she needed exactly what I had. So it just seemed right to do. It's all good." The cashier was stunned, literally stunned. She had to be a little younger than Jess, maybe 19. And I'm wondering if kids are just not ever exposed to any kindness ever. How can we expect kids to BE kind if they don't ever SEE kind.
She rang up my items and I paid, with the debit card, and met the woman in the parking lot.
She was rifling through her console, obviously a Mom Car, filled with kid stuff and two car seats, sand on the floor and french fries between the car seats and seat belts. She was trying to scrounge up some money to hand me. "I called my husband, he's going to come over here with my ATM card and we'll pay you."
I told her to relax. I asked her what town she lived in and it happens to be the same town I do. I gave her my phone number, told her where I lived, and said that she can just come by whenever. She started to cry, and I told her to call her husband back and let him know he didn't need to run over with the bank card. "Just come by and pay me back some day. I live in that house until August 30th so you have time."
She reached into the center console and pulled out an envelope, filled with museum passes. "Benefits of military life, you get all kinds of things like this. Here, take them! Take them all, they're yours." I took 4 passes to the New England Aquarium, figured Doug, the kids and I could go down at some point together, like old times, like when they were little kids only Jess won't throw a temper tantrum because her blood sugar is too low and she's exhausted.
"Consider us more than even for this, you don't have to pay me back. I think I made out the better with this." I thanked her. She told me she grew up in Medford, and no one there was nice. They'd recently moved to our town and she really couldn't get over how kind her neighbors all are. She hugged me, I hugged her. We went our separate ways.
I got to the car where Geoff was loading in our bags. "You are always so nice," he said to me. I asked him if I'm the only person he sees be nice, and he said "Outside of church, yes. You are."
I told him we had passes to the Aquarium, and that we had to use them before November according to the date, so she was nice too. I told him to be nice. If he thinks nice is good and seeing nice stuff is good stuff, he should do that. Be nice.
It was only thirteen dollars, but it was a million bucks of nice for two kids to see, and one mom to go home with all her groceries.