Friday, January 4, 2013

A Little Kindness

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia

Along with a few more pictures from this week's New Year's Brunch, I wanted to share the story of a little kindness I witnessed last night.

It was just after 5 o'clock when the girls and I dashed into the grocery store. I normally avoid buying groceries during rush-hour, but we had a window of time during Christian's basketball practice and decided to hurry in for milk and a few other staples.

We filled the cart quickly and headed to the front of the store. Despite the hour, at first glance it looked like only the self-checkout lanes were open. Quite a few customers had clustered at the self-checkout, so the girls and I passed those lanes in search of a cashier. We found one cashier, but she had turned her light off, so it looked like she was closing her lane. A couple of aisles down, we noticed a newly-lit lane, so headed that direction.

When we reached the lane, we were surprised to find a single buggy but no one in sight. As we were about to back out, a petite silver-haired lady passed us. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said with a friendly smile. "They said someone would be here in a minute."

I checked the time, a little worried that we would not be able to check out before we needed to head back to Christian's practice. It didn't look like the other lanes were moving quickly, though, so I decided we would stay put.

Moments later, a cashier hurried to the register. The pretty teenager looked a little frazzled as she keyed her code into the register, but she brightened when she noticed the woman who was ready to check out. "Oh, it's you!" she said with delight. "I was hoping you would come through my lane." I assumed the two were friends until their conversation continued.

"We always love for the 'candy bar lady' to come through our lanes," the cashier continued as she scanned a king-size Snickers Bar. "The other day I was so hungry; I was really wishing you would come through."

Soft crinkles framed the customer's bright eyes as she chuckled. "Oh, how nice that you thought of me. I hope you like this kind. Usually I ask, but since you weren't here I chose one for you."

"Oh, yes, thank you," the cashier replied. As she scanned the woman's other groceries, the pair chatted like old friends.

When the cashier stepped away from the register for a moment, I couldn't resist inquiring about the silver-haired woman's tradition. "So do you buy the cashier a candy bar every time you shop?"

"Yes," she replied with a twinkle in her eyes. "I've been doing that for about 30 years now."

I was so touched by this woman's thoughtfulness. Cashiers work long hours, often dealing with grumpy, impatient customers. How refreshing it must be at the end of a long shift to meet a customer who realizes he or she might be tired, hungry or due for a break. Some days a smile, kind word and sweet treat from someone like the candy bar lady might be the best thing in an otherwise long and frustrating work day.

Colossians 3:12 reminds us, "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." In such a small act of kindness, the candy bar lady demonstrated all of these attributes. May we all go forth determined to do the same -- sharing something sweet wherever we go.

Congratulations to Nancy Carr, who won last week's birthday necklace giveaway. Nancy plans to wear the necklace as a memento to her mother. Nancy, please e-mail me your contact information.

"Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day."  ~ Quoted in P.S. I Love You

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