Witnessing something like THIS can really change the way you go about your day. A lot of people would have overheard this conversation and thought things like she should just “get another job” or “learn to budget” when they don’t have enough money to buy groceries. Most people passing by may not have stopped to give this mom the time of day. And truth be told, a lot of them did just that. The only person who stopped to help was a woman who had her own daughter to care for, and that led to an incredible exchange that has been shared thousands of times over!
(I’m stocking a shelf. I notice a customer with her five-year-old daughter. They both look like they’ve been through a hard time.)
Little Girl: “Mama, I’m hungry.”
(The mother looks near tears.)
Mother: “I know baby; I’m sorry. Mommy only has $5, so we have to find food that will stretch until next week when mommy gets paid.”
Little Girl: “Okay.”
(I see a another customer with a baby in a cart walk up to the woman.)
Customer: “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear you. I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but I’d like to help you.”
(The other customer holds out a $20 bill. The mother starts to cry.)
Mother: “You don’t even know me, and you’re trying to help me. My husband walked out. I work a minimum wage job, and it’s just been so hard. You’re the first person who has shown me such kindness in a long time, and you’re a stranger to me.”
Customer: “I’m someone who thinks the world would work a bit better if people paid it forward a little more. I might not know you, but I know you’ve been dealt a bad hand. When’s the last time you ate? I’m sure you’re making sure your daughter eats, but when’s the last time you did?”
Mother: “How did you—”
Customer: “Because you’re a mother.”
Mother: “I… thank you so much! This will really help. Are you sure?”
Customer: “I’m positive. You know you can get some of the stuff here at ‘2 for 1’ so that will help.”
Mother: “Thank you… thank you so much! I’ll find a way to pay you back.”
Customer: “There’s no need to do that. I hope things get better for you, and when they do, you can pay it forward.”
Mother: “Thank you so much.”
(I’m called to the front, so I don’t see the rest of the exchange. I told my manager about what just happened and she ran to the back before I could ask where she was going. The mother and daughter come through my lane with a cart full of the 2 for 1 specials that we had going on at the time.)
Little Girl: “Mommy, was that lady an angel?”
Mother: “Yes baby, she was.”
(Their total comes to just under the 25 dollars the mother had. They check out, and I swear I have never seen anyone smile so much. When the other customer came up with her daughter, my manager had a gift card for $20 waiting for her. That customer comes in every month or so, and we all refer to her as “the angel.”)
But something tells me that this generous mom wouldn’t want to be called “the angel.” She probably wouldn’t want anyone to remember that she had helped someone in the first place. Like she said, she just wished that more people would “pay it forward.” Sharing this story and keeping an eye out for ways to help those around you is payment enough – not some silly nickname that she won’t be able to get rid of…but any time an employee asks the manager why the customer has that nickname, the story will get told again and again, spreading the sentiment of helping out your fellow humans when they need it most, and that is what matters over all!
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