The older woman waited for her turn patiently outside of the grocery basket corral. Puffy white hair, glasses, dressed in a cute floral jumpsuit - she reminded me of Mam-ma, my grandmother that lived with us from the time I was two. I freed a cart and passed it to her, before getting my own.
She seemed surprised. "Why, thank you!" she said, then added with emphasis, looking directly at me, "God bless you."
And He did...
...A group of store managers stood nearby as I chose a container of strawberries. "Did you know you can get those free if you buy one of these yogurts?" Great, I told him. He handed me the coupon. A few seconds later, he came over and said, "I'm sorry - I told you wrong. You have to buy two yogurts. But since I misled you, just tell the cashier to honor the coupon." He signed it for me, so there wouldn't be a problem.
...At the end of an aisle, an employee was handing out samples of popcorn. "No thanks," I told her, explaining that I'd eaten a ton the night before ("The Dark Knight" and "Mama Mia" last Friday night.)
Her face lit up; she forgot about her samples and other potential customers. "So what did you think of 'The Dark Knight'? I'm wondering if I'd like it. My son said..." and for the next five minutes we talked about the movies, like old friends.
...I explained to the cashier about the strawberries, yogurt, and coupon deal. No problem, she said. (If you spend much time in a grocery store, you know that was a miracle, for sure, even if you have someone's signature.)
...A strange man tapped on my van window before I could pull out of my parking space. As usual, my brain was a million miles away, and I rolled the window down, not thinking of danger until it was at the halfway point. "Ma'am, I just wanted to let you know your rear tire is low - not flat, but low."
I guess it's true in more ways than one that you get more out of helping someone than the person you helped. It's like I hit the jackpot with my first nickel that day.
I recently stumbled upon Don't Be Sad, an inspiring blog that just initiated a "Random Acts of Kindness" badge. Now, I don't usually tell anyone about the things I do, like giving the older woman the first cart. It doesn't seem right, especially when it's just a little thing like that. I would hope anyone would do it, but her surprise let me know that she doesn't experience it often.
So maybe Don't Be Sad is on to something...maybe we'll see how much it means to have someone take a little time to do something thoughtful. Maybe we'll be more inclined to be thoughtful if we know how much it's appreciated. I know the kindness and thoughtfulness of those strangers at the grocery store meant a lot to me that day. I'm sure to them, they were just little things.