The idea of helping a stranger is rather foreign to most of us. We don’t mind donating to charity or helping someone in need, but usually we get to see the benefits of our kindness. We get to see the smile on a child’s face after we give them a gift, or we get a heartfelt “thank you” when we do something kind for someone else. But giving freely is an incredible thing, and giving to a total stranger, not knowing if they appreciated or what becomes of them…THAT is a true gift in itself that many of us have never experienced.
(I am working the register over Christmas.)
Me: “Find everything today?”
(Note: she is silent through the transaction, which includes a gift card.)
Me: “How much would you like on this?”
Customer: “Oh, sorry. Can I have $150?”
Me: “No problem.”
Customer: (after paying) “Can you do me a favor?” (she hands me the gift card) “The next customer you see that you think could use this, could you give it to them?”
Me: (stunned) “…Of course!”
(After a minute another customer comes up, a visibly upset young woman.)
Me: “Hi! How are you?”
Customer #2: “I’m okay, thanks.”
(Clearly she is not ok, but she is trying very hard to be pleasant. She is getting very basic items: milk, bread, eggs, etc. Nothing very festive.)
Me: “So your total comes out to $0.00.”
Me: “The person before you gave me a $150 gift card to use for the next person I thought could use it. You look like you’re having a rough day, so here are your groceries, and there’s about $130 left on this card.”
(The customer just started crying. Once she could, she thanked me about 100 times. Made my whole Christmas season.)
The first woman had no idea who would come through that line or if the cashier would honor her request after she left the store. She put a lot of faith in just the simple act of doing a good deed, trusting that he generosity would go where it needed to go. I might not ever be able to afford an extra $150 gift card to give to a stranger, but I can buy someone else’s meal or drop extra change into a homeless person’s cup. Hopefully it helps, even if it’s not a lot.
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